Ken Loveless, a Chapin businessman, has filed as a candidate for a Lexington County seat on the District 5 board of trustees.
Loveless said he’s running to help preserve District 5’s status as a top-tier school system and to fix persistent problems in the district’s management of purchasing and construction matters.
“No issue is more important to me personally than education, and Jondy and I have always believed in doing our part to support Chapin-Irmo schools,” he said.
Loveless’ involvement with District 5 schools includes serving on the citizen-advisory board of the Center for Advanced Technical Studies, helping to plan the center’s concept, design and curriculum. He also personally funded implementation of the Math Matters initiative at Chapin Middle, and later helped establish the program at the district’s four other middle schools. He’s sponsored the Leaphart LEAP program, paying for a mathematics doctoral candidate to revamp the school’s math curriculum.
“Running for the school board is an extension of my commitment to helping protect and improve our local schools,” he said.
But Loveless said serious shortcomings facing the business side of district operations– including improperly awarded contracts, poor construction oversight, unwise property purchases and inefficient spending – threaten to undermine the district’s long-term success if left unchecked.
“Ultimately, the business side is intertwined with the educational side,” Loveless said “In a school district as wonderful as ours, we shouldn’t be willing to settle for substandard fiscal management, substandard construction practices or substandard anything else.”
Loveless is concerned about a series of real property purchasing related decisions he says demonstrate a lack of due diligence by the board.
“There’s no reason in the world we should buy a piece of property only to find out after we’ve purchased it that it’s unusable,” Loveless said. “Problems like that divert money away from pressing needs and put an extra pinch on our wallets.”
Loveless feels the board needs someone with expertise on construction matters – a quality he brings to the table. He’s president of Loveless Commercial Contracting, the business he founded 32 years ago.
He vows to push for greater oversight, accountability and transparency in the district’s purchasing. He also wants the board to do a much better job listening to the public, citing the outcry over last year’s purchase of 24 acres of land off Amick’s Ferry Road.
“They paid three times the assessed value for the land, and it’s at a location where traffic congestion is already a major problem. And they did it when they already own 44 acres that they’re not doing anything with. People were frustrated. The board should have listened to them.”
In addition to increasing the time allotted for public input at board meetings, Loveless says regular listening sessions are needed to ensure citizens’ voices are heard. He’s also concerned about employee retention and wants to ensure teacher job enrichment programs are adopted.
“The bottom line is that we should be striving for excellence in all areas of district operations,” Loveless said. “The teachers and staff do their part. The students and parents do their part. Now it’s time for a school board that measures up.”