Several days past re-election I am beginning to come down off my cloud and looking forward to the next four years. But first I must say thank you to all the wonderful voters in Rock Hill with whom we had the pleasure of visiting over the past two months. John, my husband of over fifty years, walked with me through every neighborhood in the 13 precincts of Seat 4. Those who were not home I called on the phone and continued with those contacts.
I am convinced that the people of Rock Hill are greatly interested in the quality and success of our public schools. Some have concerns but still express support for viable public schools. Voters in Rock Hill want their public schools to provide educations to prepare our students for life after high school, be that college, tech school, or work. They want us to be competitive with surrounding districts.
I also heard concerns related to communication. Parents want to be able to talk to their children’s schools as equal partners. Community members want to be consulted on issues that affect them.
This doesn’t mean that the Board abrogates its responsibility for decision making which reflects educational goals as well as fiscal realities. This doesn’t mean that there are not conflicting opinions throughout Rock Hill on how best to educate our children. On every door I knocked in the last two months I started by saying, “My name is Jane Sharp and I represent your neighborhood on the Rock Hill School Board.” I am struck by the importance of that word “represent” and how important my contacts were in learning more about the varieties of interpretation that word implies.
An individual member of the Board has no authority to speak for the Board. We act only as a group; passing any action requires a majority of at least four members voting in agreement. In addition, concerns related to a person or specific action of Rock Hill Schools cannot be taken up by the Board but must, rightfully so, be immediately referred to the Superintendent. That is, in part, why “choosing a superintendent” is always listed as one of the most important responsibilities of a School Board. However, I do think Board members offer an important channel for concerns to be heard, anonymously, if desired. All members of the Board do not agree with me on the issue of anonymity.
I also know that the wheels of the Board turn slowly. Some of the concerns I passed along during the last four years took literally months to be settled, but they were dealt with. Therefore, please take seriously that word “represent” as I do. I have two email addresses. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Please use them so that I may attempt to represent the children, teachers, parents, community of Rock Hill.