Longtime educator Hayes joins school board

  • Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lindsay Street/Independent Jim Hayes is sworn in at his first school board meeting.

Before sitting down to a seat among other Berkeley County School District school board members for the first time, Jim Hayes received a tense comment from the crowd: I have my eye on you.

Hayes won the seat by just two dozen votes two weeks earlier in a special election, beating out GOP-backed Kevin Condon 55 percent to 45 percent. Voter turnout was a dismal 1.7 percent, disappointing both sides of the race.

Its not lost on Hayes that hes entering the school board amid fallout from the 2012 school bond referendum with ethics violations alleged against district Communications Director Amy Kovach.

He has one thing to say about it, the tension, and the eyes that will be on him. Let it go, Hayes said in an interview with The Independent. This controversy around our board, its in the courts. Let the courts deal with it its been going on long enough. Its been very divisive.

During the April 22 meeting, Hayes was joined by his family as he was sworn onto the districts board. For all those that supported me, I appreciate it. It wasnt a long campaign but it was a hard fought campaign, Hayes said.

Later in the meeting, Berkeley County School District board Chair Kent Murray playfully goaded the newest member of the board after a vote that would spend more than $100,000 out of public coffers.

Mr. Hayes is already spending money, Murray said following the 8-0 vote, with board member Frank Wright absent.

It was a joke, and later in an interview with The Independent, Hayes said he takes his new role seriously.

He said his new role will keep him walking a fine line.

I have to take into consideration the different people we represent, he said. I have to think about how this affects the kids, how does this affect the teachers Now that Im a retiree, Im on a fixed income so I have to think about taxes. Goodness gracious, there are so many taxes out there now, Hayes said.

Attending school board meetings isnt new to Hayes. Hes served as a teacher and school administrator for 37 years 27 of those were in Berkeley County schools, including Goose Creek High and Hanahan High.

Its the first time sitting in that chair, Hayes said with a smile. From that perspective, its a little different. You tend to pay more attention to everything being said.

Hayes retired as assistant principal at Goose Creek High in 2013.

Ive spent 37 years working with and for kids, and Im not finished yet, he said. Id hate to just put it away.

Hayes will represent District 9, which has only one school, Sangaree Middle. As soon as Nexton Elementary is complete, he will have two schools in his district. But his constituents send students to nearly 14 other schools in the district, he said.

Hayes has his eyes on the future. And the ethics allegations arent what hes focused on. That is the biggest challenge: being able to keep up with the growth, Hayes said.

Hayes term expires in 2016.

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