Nine candidates are running for six open seats on the Greenville County Schools board of trustees.
Filing for the election was open from noon July 16 until noon Aug. 15. The election is closed, meaning candidates must live within the seat’s district lines to run. A candidate running for the Area 26 seat in the southern part of Greenville County would have to live in that area.
The 12 board seats have staggered election years with six seats opening every two years. The candidates serve four-year terms. Three incumbents have challengers — Area 18 board member Pat Sudduth, Area 22 board member Lynda Leventis-Wells, and Area 28 board member Lisa Wells.
Area 21 will also be on the ballot after trustee Danna Rohleder left the board effective Aug. 8. Filing for the seat opens at noon Aug. 24 and closes at noon Sept. 3. The seat will be added to the regular Nov. 6 election instead of a special election.
Area 18: Pat Sudduth
Occupation: Retired social studies teacher
Important issue: School safety, old buses
“I hope to continue, first of all, with making sure our schools are safe, and that we have more officers on our school grounds, especially at the elementary school level — that seems to be something we still seem to be lacking at,” Sudduth said. “I’d certainly get rid of all of the old buses in Greenville County, and of course I’m always trying to improve on our graduation rate.”
Area 18: Bob Cotter
Occupation: Retired band teacher
Important issue: Letting teachers teach
“I’m really concerned that the teachers have so much paperwork to do that they don’t get time to teach,” Cotter said. “And I’m concerned that they all get put inside this little box, and they say, ‘You must teach this at this time, you must be here by a certain date, you can’t be there before that date.’”
Area 20: Chuck Saylors
Occupation: Vice president for the construction management division of M.B. Kahn Construction Co. Inc. in Columbia
Important issue: Graduation rate
“We’ve been able over the last several years to improve our graduation rates, and I would like for us to continue to follow that line,” Saylors said. “The end goal is for every child to succeed, to graduate.”
Area 22: Lynda Leventis-Wells
Occupation: Retired executive director of the Carolinas Institute for Community Policing
Important issue: School safety
“I have a law enforcement background and I really care about the safety of our young people, and with all the things that have occurred over the past year, the shootings and so forth, I want to make sure that our students walk into a safe environment and that they feel secure,” Leventis-Wells said. “Not only that they feel secure, but that everyone in the building is prepared and ready just in case something may occur.”
Area 22: Rob Kendrick
Occupation: Retired business teacher, owns GreenLeaf Realty
Important issue: Efficiency in district resources
“Everybody talks about Greenville being a large district and the fact that it’s consolidated, and I think there are a lot of opportunities to try and introduce some business principles and ideas to help the district function more efficiently,” Kendrick said.
Area 24: Derek Lewis
Occupation: Executive director of Greenville First Steps
Important issue: Teacher recruitment and retention
“We need to address the teacher shortage both from a teacher-pay perspective, but also from the quality of experience that teachers are having in the classroom,” Lewis said. “And how can we remove some unnecessary burdens that are put on our teachers?”
Area 26: Roger Meek
Occupation: President of Bramlett Insurance Agency
Important issue: District budget, school safety
“The budget is always very important, and I think also in this day and time, making sure that our schools are safe, that parents feel comfortable sending their children to school,” Meek said. “We’re working on that every day — I’ve been a proponent for a lot of new ideas and things that are taking place in our schools right now.”
Area 28: Lisa Wells
Occupation: Civil engineering work for commercial and industrial clients as well as the city of Greenville
Important issue: Greenville County population growth, student safety
“Our biggest issue is dealing with population growth in our communities and schools while we protect existing options and expand high-quality school-choice opportunities for families across the county,” Wells said. “Equally important is the issue of student well-being and safety — we must create better support networks and interventions in our schools to assist students before they hit a crisis point.”
Area 28: Darryl Imperati
Occupation: Former principal of Woodmont High School
Important issue: Providing the best educational opportunities for staff and students
“I believe that anyone wishing to run for the school board shouldn’t denigrate, but rather build up,” Imperati said. “If elected, I’ll be a strong voice for the entire area which I will serve, always advocating for parity and always striving for excellence and always building on the foundation that’s been laid. There are too many times folks tear down and tear apart. My record as a school administrator is one of building up.”