UNION — Union County Board of School Trustees District 6 candidate Terri Ransom-Renna says that she wants to replace what she calls the sense of complacency about education on the board with a sense of urgency.
Ransom-Renna, a former art teacher at Jonesville Elementary and Lockhart Elementary schools and a former assistant principal at Buffalo Elementary and Jonesville Elementary/Middle schools, said the board needs to develop a sense of urgency about education that recognizes the impact of the decisions they make.
“One of the reasons I’m running for a position on the school board is that I feel the present board has a sense of complacency,” Ransom-Renna said. “I feel like in dealing with the education of our children there should be a sense of urgency. Each decision you make as a school board member should be made as if that decision is going to directly impact your own child.”
Ransom-Renna said one area where she feels the board has been especially complacent is in the hiring of personnel. She said this complacency resulted in one important position being vacant for nearly a year.
“Our district was without a personnel director from November of 2011 until September of 2012,” Ransom-Renna said. “The personnel director is important because that is who a teacher goes to with concerns. They were without a voice in the school system.
“The personnel director also provides a means of checks and balances and is instrumental in hiring practices for the county,” she said. “The employment of new teachers during that time was done without the knowledge and experience of a personnel director.”
Ransom-Renna said the board’s complacency has also caused it to overlook the pool of potential educators that exist in Union County.
“In regards to the hiring of new professional personnel, I think that our young people are being overlooked,” Ransom-Renna said. “When we have new industries locate here we urge them to hire locally, yet this past year the school district hired 32 new professional staff members, but only 13 were from Union.
“I know six young people who have degrees in education who are from Union County who are forced to drive out of town to work,” she said. “I have heard from families whose sons and daughters are graduates of Union County schools and have gone on to receive a degree in education, some of whom even completed their student teaching here at our schools, yet they were overlooked when it came time to hire new teachers. Some were not even given an interview. Instead, these young people have been forced to move out of the county or are driving long distances to a job.”
Ransom-Renna said that by failing to even consider hiring more staff locally, the school district will continue to find itself having to hire new personnel as those hired from outside the district leave after gaining some work experience.
“Union County has been known for a long time as the training ground for other school districts,” Ransom-Renna said. “They hire people from Spartanburg and after a year or two of training they leave us.”
Ransom-Renna said that hiring locally will increase the district’s likelihood of retaining experienced personnel.
“These young people want to return here and live and work here,” Ransom-Renna said. “They have a vested interest in their community and they want to spend their professional lives here, using their education to benefit our children.”
Another area of concern for Ransom-Renna is the decline in test scores.
“We have made improvements on PASS and that should be celebrated, but the fact remains that in 20 out of 26 areas tested, we were below the state average,” Ransom-Renna said. “Both our SAT and ACT scores have fallen in addition to our Advanced Placement exams in which the passing rate was cut in half.”
Ransom-Renna attributed this decline to the board’s decision to replace the block schedule at UCHS with a seven-period day.
“If you ask the high school teachers they would all agree they were better able to cover the material and cover it more thoroughly with block scheduling,” Ransom-Renna said. “In addition, kids were able to take more classes in order to prepare them for college.
“For example, a lot of those kids who were rising juniors at the time of the schedule change were unable to have a third year of a foreign language because their academic plan was made in the ninth grade based on a block schedule,” she said. “With a block schedule you get eight credits in a year compared to a maximum of seven in a period schedule.”
Ransom-Renna said she also wants to promote parental involvement in the educational process. She pointed to the recent decision by the board to have UCHS begin offering dual credit Spanish courses with USC Union as an example of what can happen when concerned parents get involved with their children’s education.
“Both parents and students had expressed their concern over the fact that Spanish III was not being offered at recent School Improvement Council meetings and school board meetings and, because of this, Spanish will now be offered as an early bird dual credit class at UCHS beginning after Christmas,” Ransom-Renna said. “This means that not only will the students be offered a higher level Spanish class, they will also receive college credit for the class. I applaud the district for this decision. I encourage everyone to become involved in the School Improvement Council and PTA/PTO at their child’s school. You can make a difference.”
A 1978 graduate of Union High School, Ransom-Renna holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of South Carolina and a master’s in administration and supervision from Winthrop University. Certified in elementary education, art education, administration and supervision, Ransom-Renna has 30 years experience in education including 17 years as a teacher and 13 years as an administrator.
Ransom-Renna and her husband, Rick, have two children, Drew and Gray, who are seniors at Clemson University and UCHS, respectively. She is a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church, the Union County Arts Council, National Education Association and the South Carolina Education Association. She is also active in Relay for Life and the School Improvement Council at UCHS.
Ransom-Renna is facing incumbent Kakie White for the District 6 seat.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.