On November 3, 2020, our community has a very important election for three new members on the Lexington Richland District 5 School Board.
Two incumbents are running again. Robert Gantt (Richland County) is running for his sixth 4-year term on the school board. Michael Cates (Lexington County) is running for his second term. Cates is currently the Chairman.
During Gantt’s tenure, the schools in the Irmo cluster have fallen into total disrepair, all the while the building and renovating in Chapin has gone off without a hitch. Nursery Road Elementary and Harbison West Elementary both still have the pod classroom formation, a holdover from when they were built in the 1970s. Of course, Mr. Gantt oversaw a $243M Referendum that updated Chapin Elementary, built Spring Hill High School, renovated Chapin High School, but what has he really done for Irmo schools? And Mr. Cates has had ample opportunity to demand equity for these schools, but he has sat on his hands. They were both on the board when former Supt. Hefner demanded that a new elementary school (which is costing you, the taxpayer, $32M) be built in an area of the district where the population shifts do not support it. They rubber-stamped every decision made by Dr. Hefner, with no enrollment data available.
Trustee Beth Hutchison has chosen not to run for reelection, but is throwing her support behind April Alsup, who seems to be repeating everything she has ever heard Hutchison say through the years. Alsup was not for Face to Face instruction, said she would accept donations from firms who may do business with the district, and is teaming up in her campaign with Gantt and Cates. Hutchison was a key player (along with incumbent Ed White) in getting the board salary raised from $3700 to $9600 in order to qualify for state retirement benefits. She called the raise a “drop in the bucket.” A DROP IN THE BUCKET? And, she attempted to hide the vote without telling other board members by putting it into a budget resolution.
Three new candidates, Hines (Lexington), Huddle (Lexington), and Hogan (Richland) have pledged not to accept those campaign donations which come from firms who may or are doing business with the district. They have all pledged to serve the district as a whole and bring the Irmo cluster back by focusing on maintenance of those deteriorating buildings and demanding equity.
Gantt has presided over real estate deals and construction bids that have benefited his major donors for far too long. IRMO parents, students, taxpayers, AND teachers need to wake up and demand more for yourselves and your community.
Please remember Rebecca HINES and Catherine HUDDLE for Lexington County and Matt HOGAN for Richland County.
Lexington County Resident