Candidates for Columbia County School Board seats might want to brush up on their debating skills before Monday.
That's when a debate, organized by the Columbia County Republican Party, will be held to feature candidates vying for seats in District 2 and District 5 - the only two contested school board races this year.
The Monday debate will be held at 7 p.m. in the Greenbrier High School auditorium. A second debate also is scheduled for Oct. 5 at Lakeside High School's auditorium.
"If we don't do these debates, then how are people going to have the opportunity to find out about them?" asked outgoing District 5 School Board Member Lee Muns, who also is the chairman of the county's Republican Party. "Even though this is a nonpartisan race, somebody has to step up and make sure people are aware and know who these people are."
Each candidate will be queried by a three-person panel - State Sen. Joey Brush, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee;
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Linda Shrenko, a former state schools superintendent; and Barry Paschal, the publisher of The Columbia County News-Times.
All four candidates have committed to participate in Monday's debate: District 2 incumbent Wayne Bridges and challenger Donnie Porter, and District 5 candidates LouAnne Grove and Michael Sleeper.
Grove and Sleeper are running for the seat Muns is vacating at the end of the year.
The debate might inspire Muns to suggest a successor to voters.
"After all of this process is over with, I may choose someone," he said.
"I want to see these candidates under the gun, like everybody else does. I want to see how they respond to the panel's questions and everything else."
Lou Anne Grove
Hot-button topics Muns expects panelists to broach include the recent systemwide drop in SAT scores, the ever-increasing student growth rate and dropout rates.
"I think in the past, people have not looked at board of education members as very crucial to the process, but they're very crucial," he said. "We wanted to make sure the public was aware of who these individuals were, what they stood for and what they believed in."
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