Richmond Hill High School teacher Charles Blakewood has announced his intent to run for the Bryan County School Board District 3 seat, currently held by Jeff Morton.
Earlier this month, Morton said he plans to run for the vice chairman seat and Charles Johnson said he will also be running for the District 3 seat.
Blakewood has been teaching English and speech for 10 years at RHHS. He said there are five particular issues the BoE needs to address.
"My first priority is that there’s been a substantial shift of power from the classroom teacher to the building administration and from there to the board office in Pembroke," he said. "It really is a question of the teachers having less authority. It’s gone up instead of down and, as a teacher I think we need more flexibility to do our job."
Blakewood’s second priority is the funding of athletic and academic teams.
"Extensive fundraising is necessary to compete and I’ve had academic teams where we received no funding at all and the students had to come up with all of it themselves," he said. "I think clubs, sports teams and academic teams spend too much time fundraising and not enough time participating in their activities."
Blakewood said In School Suspension for middle and high school students and the block scheduling system both need to be looked at – and reconsidered.
"Everyone being bussed to a central location is ridiculous. You cannot educate yourself with a workbook and a pencil in ISS, it needs to be in the classroom," he said, noting punishment should be Saturday Day instead. "That has a better effect because students don’t want to lose their Saturday morning. As a teacher, we have to prepare separate lesson plans and I know a student can’t go to ISS and educate themselves, they need as much classroom time as possible."
Blakewood said he doesn’t know of any teachers that like the block schedule system, noting it doesn’t allow for as much teaching time as a traditional schedule does.
"And we need real vocational training for our students in both high schools, and maybe the middle schools, too," he said. "I know there are concerns about the legalities of a program, but other systems are doing it – why can’t we? I’ve seen too many kids who aren’t in College or Tech Prep courses drop out because there’s nothing to keep them interested."
Blakewood is originally from Effingham County and married a Richmond Hill resident. His wife teaches at the RHES and they have two sons, one in 2nd grade and another in 7th grade.
When asked why he’s the best candidate for the District 3 seat, Blakewood pointed out he’s not "a normal politician."
"Charlie Johnson is a good man and he would make as good a candidate as I would," he said. "I’m not running against anyone – I’m only running for this position on the school board."