In a race between two former educators and a small business owner, Sherril Ray defeated Charles Smith and John Michalik for the Area 2 seat on Sumter School Board.
A retired educator with nearly 40 years of experience in Sumter County public schools, Ray finished with 40.3 percent of the overall vote (1,279 votes). Smith tallied 31.9 percent of the vote, and Michalik came in third with 26.6 percent.
“I’m very honored and was supported by so many people,” Ray said. “For the people in the area who didn’t vote for me, I will be representing them also.”
Ray, who previously served as principal at Lakewood High School and Furman Middle School, knows what the first order of business will be now that she’s on the board.
“The most important thing is the superintendent search,” she said. “We’ve started with focus groups; it’s a priority.”
Ray also has a few other things she wants to improve on within the district.
“Test scores are below the state average, and discipline is another area we have to put effort into as soon as we can,” she said. “Finances are a big concern, so with new members on the board, we’ll see what can be done. I also want to make sure we’re making a change with (the) perception (the public has of us).”
The Area 2 seat on the board was previously held by Michalik’s wife, Karen Michalik, since district consolidation in 2011. She announced in July that she wouldn’t be seeking re-election to the seat.
Now that she has filled that seat, Ray said she knows it won’t be easy.
“I have a lot to learn right away, but I’m ready for the challenge,” she said. “It’s difficult being on the school board, but I’m excited.”
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