Charleston County’s tepid pro-district majority likely has a bit more solvency now that final election results are in. With five seats on the board to fill Tuesday, voters threw out persistent spoiler David Engelman and denied a run by conservative John Graham Altman.
The results put Arthur Ravenel’s hope for a conservative direction for Charleston County Schools on the ropes. Already looking like the leader of a defeated cause, Ravenel now only has three votes on the nine member board that he can count on with any consistency.
Jon Butzon, chairman of the Charleston Education Network, says that the results suggest more voters are paying attention to the school board races, and those voters want results.
“I think people are expecting the school board to do more than complain,” Butzon says. “It’s one thing to point out problems, but you have to come up with solutions.”
Organizers of parent-led charter schools saw most of the candidates who won election Tuesday as “anti-charter.” But all the candidates suggested they were supportive of school choice and charters, though with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
There’s good reason to be weary of charters on a case by case basis, Butzon says, considering local charters’ mixed history of success, fraud, and failure. Board members like Toya Green and Gregg Meyers have rang the alarm against a state mandate to funnell district resources to charters. Meanwhile, charter organizers say they’re trying to improve public education, but have little in capital resources (namely buildings) to ensure success.