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Three candidates seek Seat 2 on Florence On Schools board

Three candidates seek Seat 2 on Florence On Schools board

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FLORENCE — Two challengers are seeking to replace the incumbent in Seat 2 of the Florence One Schools Board of Trustees in the Nov. 3 election.

Seat 2 is one of four seats on the board that are being contested in the election.

 Incumbent John Galloway is facing Tyrone Rainey and Landon Reynolds.

District 2 includes a rectangular-shaped area south and east of downtown Florence.

Galloway is seeking a second term on the school board.

Galloway replaced Florence City Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore as the trustee representing District 2, when she resigned from the school board after she won an August 2016 special election to fill the seat of Ed Robinson on the city council.

Galloway is a native of Florence. He attended Mars Bluff Elementary School and Wilson Junior High school and is a graduate of Wilson Senior High School, Class of 1964. He joined the U.S. Navy shortly after high school. After four years of service, he returned to Florence and spent three years in the naval reserves while working at the Florence paper mill. In September he re-entered the U.S. Navy and spent 23 years on active duty. Upon retirement in December 1993, he settled in Goose Creek and worked for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department.  In 2001, he relocated to Florence County working for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office in various roles until 2006. After a brief hiatus, in August 2007, he began working at the Florence Career Center teaching law enforcement to 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders until his retirement in June 2016. In the summer of 2017, he joined the Florence County Veterans Affairs office, where he currently works.

He is married to Geneva Galloway, and between them they have five adult daughters. Galloway said a daughter and several grandchildren have been students in Florence One schools at South Florence and Wilson’s IB program.

“I have a great interest in Florence One schools,” Galloway said.

Galloway said he wants to see the middle school concept through to fruition, especially seeing Southside Middle School completed. He said schools still need to be built for Florence One to have a true middle school concept. He said it looks like Southside Middle School will not be completed until the 2022-2023 school year.

"One thing, I’ve been a board member for four years," he said. "I know what it takes to do the job, how the system works, and the dedication it takes to better the education of our students."

He said he knows what it takes now to get the funding to support the new schools.

“I have experience,” he said.

Galloway said he supports a quality education for all students. His goals if re-elected will be to see the completion of Southside Middle School and a new Savannah Grove. He said there could be other new schools in the next four or five years.

Galloway said his accomplishments during his first term include being able to get members of the board to understand they are on the board for one reason – education. He said he has worked at getting everybody to understand they are after the same goal. They need to work together.

Galloway said although he has served the longest on the board he is one of the older members and brings life experience to the job.

“I’d like to see Florence One become the best it can be,” Galloway said. “And to be the best working environment that it can be for its teachers and students.”

Galloway said the job of school board trustee is to represent the people that elect them, to represent the community and to bring fresh, new and innovative ideas before the board to improve education in Florence One Schools. He said they are spokespersons for the community.

“We must have a caring heart,” Galloway said, “and want to make a contribution. You want the people you represent to know you care about them.”

Galloway said, “I am a candidate with proven experience. I know how to get the job done.”

Galloway said he will represent all schools.

Landon Reynolds is challenging Galloway for Seat 2. He is a Florence native. Reynolds is a graduate of South Florence High Schools. He received his bachelor of music degree from Anderson University, master of music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a doctorate of ministry, also from Anderson University. He came back to Florence 10 years ago. He is worship pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Florence.

Reynolds and his wife, Leah, a music educator at McLaurin Elementary School, have three children, twins Sullivan and Hallie, 8, and Finley, 4.

Reynolds said he grew up in Florence One Schools, and now that his twins are in third grade at McLaurin Elementary, he said it is time for him to give back to the schools that invested in him and made an impact on his life.

“I am very much involved in the schools,” Reynolds said. “Having a wife who is a teacher and children in the schools, I have a lot of reasons to see the schools be the very best that they can be.”

This is his first time running for the school board.

Reynolds said he wants to see unity on the school board and put the students and teachers first, not just the schools in Seat 2.

“I want to do what is best for every single child in the district,” he said.

 “I think for myself,” he said.

Reynolds said he will get the facts, assess each situation, and do what is in the best interest for all students and do it in the most respectful way possible.

“I am a self-thinker. I want to see the facts for myself," he said. "I want to make the best decisions for our entire community and see that every student has the ability to succeed. I want to see every student receive the best education they can receive regardless of the brick and mortar school they attend.”

His goals, if elected, will be to continue with the progress that has been made in the last few years, especially with budgetary concerns. Being fiscally responsible is important to Reynolds. Reynolds said he loves the school district, and he wants to see all students in the district achieve their best. He said it is better accomplished when educators are their best. He said if you want to make sure that students excel you must first have an environment where teachers thrive.

The responsibility of the school board is to represent the community, Reynolds said. A representative of the board must be a person who listens to the community, to find out what things are working in their community and those things they are struggling so he/she can understand what is needed to make their schools better, Reynolds added.

“I think I have the wisdom to lead,” he said.

Reynolds said that as a pastor, he understands what it takes to lead.

He said a trustee should be a person who can be trusted to do the best for all students.

Reynolds said he sees no glaring problems within the specific schools in Seat 2.

“I am not a political guy,” Reynolds said. “For me to do this, which is way outside my normal desires, shows just how important this is to me. I believe the educational system is the centerpiece of our community.”

He said the reality is that school board influences so much in the community. He said it influences the businesses that Florence will attract to come here; it influences the opportunities children will have in the future, even their desire to return or not return the area as an adult.

“I want it to thrive now and for the future,” he said.

Tyrone Rainey is also running for Seat 2 in Florence One Schools. He is a native of Florence. He attended Florence One Schools growing up, including Holmes Elementary School, McClenaghan High School and Wilson Senior High School, where he graduated. After high school, Rainey received his bachelor’s degree from Morris College in Sumter and his master’s degree in counseling from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. He did graduate and post-graduate work at South Carolina State University. He is a graduate of the Leadership Development Program at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and the Leadership Development Program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

He and his wife, Quilla, have a daughter, Marquil and a son, David. They have one granddaughter, Ryleigh. His daughter is a graduate of Wilson High School.

Rainey has worked in higher education for 37 years and served on numerous community boards for more than 25 years. He is a deacon at Majority Missionary Baptist Church.

Rainey said he believes his background in education makes him the better choice to serve on school board. He said he wants to bring the school board back to the community.

“I think the school board has left the community,” he said.

Rainey said he wants to serve the community and the students. He said through community development he will push for academic excellence for all students.

Rainey said this is an opportunity to share his talents and life experiences to the benefit of the community. He said it is more important than ever to “have a voice that can represent different groups in the community.”

In doing this, he said, he will be responsive, accessible, innovative, youth oriented, and a negotiator and educator.

 “I can be the conduit for the concerns and interests of the community by giving voice to educational and administrative policy making decisions,” Rainey said. “My past experience in higher education affords me the opportunity to forge stronger ties between the community and stakeholders. It is my personal goal to motivate and preserve the quality of student learning outcomes as well as improving the district schools themselves.”

Rainey said he believes in quality public educations for all students — current and future.

“I hope to bring about change in the way we deliver public education to our students here in Florence,” he said.

Rainey said a trustee should be a spokesman for the community he represents.

If elected, Rainey said, he would communicate and listen to diverse members of the community and represent all of their needs. He said listening and understanding the needs of the parents and sharing their input with the board will enhance parental and student development.

“This will afford me the opportunity to be a liaison between the community and educational stakeholders in my district,” he said.

He said it feels like the school board has forgotten it represents the entire community.

An area that Rainey is concerned about and would make a priority is children with special needs. He said a stronger more comprehensive program is needed for these students. He said that became most apparent during COVID-19.

He said in these trying times more attention should be focused on the needs of the underserved students. He said as schools were shut down during COVID it also became apparent that many students lacked computers and internet service, which hindered their ability to learn remotely. He said they must not let these children fall behind.

“I will bring faith, family and community development to the table,” Rainey said.

In doing so, he said. he will represent not only students in Seat 2, but all children in Florence One Schools, striving to give them the best education possible.

Seat 1 incumbent Barry Townsend is being challenged by Clamentine Elmore. Seat 4 incumbent Alexis Pipkins is challenged by Robert V. Gabriel, and Seat 5 incumbent Artie Buxton is being challenged by Kimrey Ann Haughn and Gary Leo Lynch. Board Chairman S. Porter Stewart II is uncontested for Seat 7.

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