Election changes District 5 majority
By Liesha Huffstetler
New leaders have taken over the District 5 school board after the Nov. 3 election.
Veteran member Jan Hammond held the gavel as District 5’s new chairman for the 1st time Nov. 16.
Other veterans Ken Loveless is the vice-chair and Niki Gardner new secretary.
Residents stood and applauded at the meeting when 3 new board members – Catherine Huddle and Rebecca Hines in Lexington County and Matt Hogan in Richland County – were sworn in.
The 3 new board members victories flipped control of the board to members who have been critical of the long-serving board majority’s spending decisions.
These were fueled by the districts new $5.4 million Amicks Ferry Road Elementary School.
“I appreciate the support of this wonderful community,” said Hammond. “. It is time to turn a page and look to the future.
"I am looking forward to working with the new board and excellence for all,” said Ken Loveless.
Huddle motioned for Superintendent Christina Melton to move forward with a reentry plan for face-to-face instruction 5 days a week by Feb. 1.
This motion passed 6-1, with Ed White, the only board member voting against.
High school teacher Amy Carter said, “we need to be careful about embracing a date but embracing a process that gives the ability to move backward or forward respective to data and people.”
The board decided if there is evidence of an increase in covid cases after returning, a revised plan would be requested.
The all-virtual education option (FIVE) will continue during the return to school 5 days a week.
Parents and students from Rolling Creek and Chelsea Park spoke to oppose redistricting.
They want their children to remain at Chapin schools and not moved to Dutch Fork schools.
Melissa Spearman of Chelesea Park said, “I would like them to consider grandfathering our kids through 12th grade for Chapin schools.”
Katelyn Ricottilli, a student at Chapin Intermediate School, said, “I am worried about redistricting which has me and my sisters starting over at Dutch Fork. My dad was in the Marines, and I know what it feels like to changes schools and start over with all new friends.”
The district will hold 2 virtual community events to get feedback from the community and answer questions.
The 1st of 2 online events will be Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5:30 - 7 pm.
The 2nd event will be Thursday, Dec. 3, Lunch & Learn, from noon - 1:30 pm.
Questions can be submitted live during the event or in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org. The link to join the virtual public events is https://lexrich5.rev.vbrick.com/#/webcasts/forum .