There will definitely be at least one new member of the Georgetown County School Board next month.
Since Teresa Bennani is not seeking another term to the District 6 seat, covering parts of the Waccamaw Neck, one of the newcomers running as petition candidates – Richard Kerr and Peggy Wheeler-Cribb – will fill that spot.
Kerr and his wife, Grace, have one daughter, Grace Kerr who is in the seventh grade at Waccamaw Middle School. He is a retired CEO of Metal Recycling Co.
He is a graduate of University of Tennessee with a B.S. in. Engineering. He is a commissioned officer in the Air Force.
Wheeler-Cribb has been a Georgetown County resident for more than 50 years and is married to C.L. Cribb. She has two children, Diane Wheeler-Rodgers and her husband, Johnnie, and Will Darwin Wheeler, and two grandchildren, Jason Wheeler and Nathan Wheeler. She was married to Will Wheeler until his death.
The following are questions posed to the candidates by the Georgetown Times:
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?
Kerr: Students drop out of school because they lose interest, don’t want to go to college, not interested in curriculum offered.
Not all students want to go to college or can go to college. I believe the GCSD needs to develop and strengthen our professional trade program (eg. electrician, plumber, welder, auto mechanic, carpenter, etc) that provides an alternative career path other than college.
Positions in the craft are often higher paying jobs than many college graduates. By promoting this program in high school, many students would elect to continue their education.
Wheeler-Cribb: Low performing students need more attention. I feel the reason for “drop outs” is personal and reflects unique life circumstances. We need to continue to work to involve parents and guardians before discipline and drop out levels occur.
We have an IGP (Individual Graduation Plan) in place. This is supposed to involve the student, parent and counselor to work together to make sure all bases are covered.
I think it is important for every student to have a strong relationship with at least one adult in the school. Someone who makes the student feel good about self.
Every student needs to have opportunities to relate what they are learning to real life and the work world experience. “One Size Does Not Fit All.”
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?
Kerr: All students should have the opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten classes.
Research has shown that the earlier children learn to read and write the more proficient they become in classes in later years, and the result is improved test scores.
The United States is ranked 17 in the world in education. Those countries ahead of the United States have strong elementary school programs.
I believe a strong Pre-K and Kindergarten program will improve the quality of education for our students. I also believe this should be a state requirement and as such funded by the state budget.
Wheeler-Cribb: This is where I’m anxious to work. I owned and taught preschool for 31 years, more than 1,200 students.
I believe preschool is the proper foundation for learning. All 3 and 4 year olds need to have pre reading skills, but more important they need to learn to take turns and share the teachers attention.
Quality pre schools should help children explore and experiment. It is not to teach them to read or multiply by age 5. It should be to play dress up, build with blocks, be read to.
All this helps teach language and pre reading skills and foster self esteem.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the school district and what can be done to try to solve the problem?
Kerr: Balancing the school district budget without raising taxes will be a huge hurdle for GCSD for the year 2013-14.
It has been several years since taxes for the school district have been raised. With inflation and the start-up of the new Charter School the cost burden has increased for the GCSD.
During these hard economic times taxes should not be increased. The GCDS has to find a way to increase revenue through additional grants (Federal and State) or funding from businesses.
Additional costs cutting measures should be investigated excluding teachers and necessary administrative positions.
When the economy improves, revenues will improve and this will be an easier problem to solve.
Wheeler-Cribb: We are told we need more taxes. I say no more taxes. We have $1,700 per student in SC.
The number one factor of a successful classroom is the ability and desire of the teacher.
I also feel we need to use research based pilot programs. They need to be implemented long enough for assessment.
I collaborated with the superintendent and guidance counselors to implement The Character First Pilot Program in all the schools and YMCA 2004-2008.
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