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New group aims to shake up Charleston County School Board with new candidates

CCSD school buses (File/WCIV)

On Wednesday, dozens of Charleston County parents, grandparents, business and civic leaders officially announced the formation of non-profit Charleston Coalition for Kids.

The group’s executive director, Josh Bell, said the group’s mission includes improving the makeup of the current school board. Members are elected to the position.

“Charleston Coalition for Kids is on a mission to help improve our local schools and give every child in the county an equal opportunity to a first-class education, no matter where they live. We will educate the public about the school board and help recruit, elect and support qualified board members. We need to enact real, transformative change in the Charleston County School District to improve the standard of education for all students,” Bell said.

Among the 75 Founding Members is former Charleston Mayor, Joseph P. Riley, Jr. “I have joined the Coalition For Kids to work together to elect members to our School Board who are committed to improving the quality of education for all of our children, and to hold our School Board members accountable,” said Riley.

Donecia Summers, a Charleston RISE parent advocate, shared “It matters to me because I’m a parent, and I have been to school board meetings. There needs to be a change.”

“What we need is urgent change – leaders who are capable and qualified to provide our students the opportunities they deserve,” said Patrick Bryant, an entrepreneur and past chair of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Bell, a former teacher and Executive Director of Teach For America in South Carolina, said the School Board should be made up of individuals who share the belief that there is an urgent need to improve our schools.

“We recognize that meaningful change is not possible unless we start at the top, focused on the board members responsible for school outcomes. We plan to identify and elect board members who understand the responsibility they have, and who are equally urgent about the need to improve our schools. The Charleston County School Board manages the largest public budget in our region, and most community members have no idea who serves. These leaders spend an annual budget of more than $900 million, hold the Superintendent accountable, and make decisions which directly impact the futures of our 50,000 students,” Bell added.

Bell said that the Coalition will spend the early Summer evaluating candidates for School Board and announce their endorsements around the time school convenes in August.

To join the Charleston Coalition For Kids, click here.

The Coalition will endorse candidates in this fall’s election.

Founding members include:

  • Liz Alston, Former CCSD board chair, Historian at Emanuel AME
  • Rochelle Altman, community volunteer
  • Craig Ascue, Ascue’s Collision and former CCSD board member
  • Paul Asper, MUSC Zucker Institute For Applied Neurosciences
  • Chris Bryant, Yarborough Applegate
  • Patrick Bryant, Bidr and Go To Team
  • Kate Buckholz, Carolina Youth Development Center
  • Ben Cash, BlueKey
  • Dr. David and Kathy Cole, MUSC
  • Cheryl Cromwell, Charleston RISE
  • Lee Deas, Obviouslee Marketing
  • Ginny Deerin, Boomy Consulting
  • Park Dougherty, Wells Fargo Advisors
  • Dr. David and Julie Ellison, Charleston Hematology Oncology Associates / Porter-Gaud
  • Chris Fraser Avison Young, former CCSD board chair
  • Tamika Gadsden, community volunteer
  • Tim Goodwin Mayor, City of Folly Beach
  • Kira Golub, Community volunteer / real estate investor
  • Samuel Graham, Department of Veterans Affairs (retired), Charleston RISE
  • Toya Hampton, Former CCSD board member; Toya Hampton, LLC
  • Ken Harrell, Joye Law Firm
  • Lee Higdon, College of Charleston (former President)
  • Ashley Holbrook, Boeing South Carolina
  • Jermaine Husser, Goodwill / Palmetto Warrior Connection
  • Jessica Jackson, Boeing South Carolina
  • Wilbur Johnson, Young Clement Rivers
  • Barbara Kelley, Duncan Community volunteer
  • Paul Kohlheim, Community volunteer
  • Kaye Koonce, Trident Technical College (retired)
  • Audrey Lane, Royal Missionary Baptist Church Foundation
  • Larry Lautenschlager, Robert Bosch, LLC (retired)
  • Amanda Lawrence, Trident United Way
  • Ted Legasey, Community volunteer
  • Lindsay Leonard, Boeing South Carolina
  • Melissa Maddox-Evans, City of Charleston Housing Authority
  • Nina Magnesson, BoomTown!
  • Caroline Mauldin, SC Future Minds
  • Jim McNab, Palmetto Pharmaceuticals
  • Otha Meadows, Trident Charleston Urban League
  • Rev. Dr. Kylon, Middleton Mt. Zion AME Church
  • Amy Mims, Meeting Street Schools
  • Katie Monoc, Monoc Roberts Law Firm
  • Michael Boulware, Moore International African American Museum
  • Morgan Morton Warner, Lambert Consumer Group (retired)
  • Ami and Marc Murphy, community volunteerd / Atlatl Software
  • Ed Navarro, Grove Property Fund
  • Ben and Kelly Navarro Sherman, Capital / Meeting Street Schools
  • Alex Opoulos, Objectivity Squared
  • Kathy Parks, Community volunteer
  • Eli Poliakoff Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough
  • Tommy Preston, Boeing South Carolina
  • Allen Reed, Iron Horse Ventures
  • Kathryn and Mark Richardson, MAR Real Estate
  • Bratton Riley, Citibot
  • Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Former Mayor, City of Charleston
  • Dr. David Rivers, MUSC Community Health
  • Diana Saillant Saillant, Consulting / Hispanic Business Association
  • Dot Scott, NAACP
  • Leon Scott, Belmond Charleston Place Hotel
  • Susan Simons, Former CCSD board member
  • Robert Smith, Goodwill
  • Truman Smith, Community volunteer
  • Gray Somerville, LaunchPath Innovation
  • Debra and Mitch Sonkin, Teach For America – South Carolina
  • George Stevens, community volunteer
  • Dr. Kendra Stewart, Riley Center for Livable Communities, College of Charleston
  • Donecia Summers, parent and Charleston RISE Fellow
  • Keith Summey Mayor, City of North Charleston
  • John Tecklenburg Mayor, City of Charleston
  • Eric Thome, VentureSouth Charleston
  • LaTisha Vaughn-Brandon, Engineering For Kids
  • Chad and Jena Walldorf, entrepreneur and former CCSD teacher
  • Doug Warner, community volunteer
  • Loren and Mindelle Ziff, EastRock Properties / Z18 Ventures
  • Anita Zucker, InterTech Group
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