Incumbent Republican Elery Little faces Murray Vernon, a petition candidate, in the race for the District 5 Georgetown County School Board seat.
Little, a bailiff at the Georgetown County Judicial Center, is an Army veteran. He was principal at the former Pleasant Hill High School for 24 years.
He and his wife, Eloyce, have one daughter and two grandchildren.
Vernon is employed at Horry-Georgetown Technical College as the Provost at The Georgetown Campus. He has worked at the college for 31 years. He and his wife, Margie, have three children and three grandchildren.
The following are questions posed to the two candidates:
Q: While Georgetown County does not have the highest dropout rate in the state, it is an area that needs improvement. What can be done to help ensure more students stay in school and graduate?
Little: We need to attempt to identify “potential dropouts” at an early age and widen vocational opportunities for students. We also need to ensure all students feel safe and secure and eliminate bullying as much as possible. We must also offer opportunities for students to earn credits through ‘Credit Recovery’ and see that they connect with guidance as they complete their college and career ready plan.
Vernon: Georgetown County School may not have the highest drop our rate in the State. However, we should never think that rate we have is satisfactory.
I think that all Student needs to be Challenge every day while they are in School. I, purpose that some modification to the Curriculum might offer such a challenge. I would invite the Business and Industry to the table to offer their vision of what they see as a solution to the Problem. I also would suggest that within the School guideline establish a Spec Classroom that reflect the Product of some of the Industries in Georgetown County.
Q: In the area of early child development, how important is having all-day pre-kindergarten classes? What should the district do to get the day-long courses implemented in all elementary schools?
Little: Funding must be available to the local district in order to provide the base support for this very vital program — “Pay now in order to narrow the achievement gap or pay later as it becomes wider.”
Early childhood development is very important in the success of students throughout their academic life. The district must make every effort to secure grants, funds from community support and dedicate funds to this being a reality.
Vernon: Given that the State Fund a portion of the Kindergarten Program which is not sufficient, I, would that that Local Government, Business and Industry need to be invited to participate in a Partnership to develop a process that will provide a source of continue funding for such a valuable Program. Also, I would revisit the Board of Education Funding Priority to determined how can these funds be better use. In addition, I think we need to rally the Delegation to ask the State for additional Funds.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school district and what can be done to try to solve the problem?
Little: With the implementation of Common Core, reading is an essential in the success of all students. Reading success by 3rd grade is a predictor for graduation. All students deserve a program that promotes reading readiness, reading comprehension and ability to read all content areas to gain the necessary skills for school success.
Funding is necessary for reading teachers/ specialists to intervene when students need extra assistance. Our state must recognize that every child does not enter school ready to read. Therefore, we must have additional funding and district dedication of funds to see these needs are met.
Vernon: The Challenges that I see facing the School System are as follows: Increase the Graduation Rate, Increase the Test Scores, especially in the STEM Programs. I must say that Schools have made major progress we still can improve.
Do a follow-up survey of the High School Graduate to evaluate how satisfied their employer are with their High School Education. Given the State of the Economy and State Funding it is necessary that local Communities needs to look within and come up with several funding source that will meet the financial needs of their Educational System. We cannot depend on Business as usually any more. We must think out of the box.
By Scott Harper
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