Two individuals are campaigning for the District 1 seat on the Lincoln County Schools Board of Education. This seat was previously held by Cathy Davis who is now running for a seat on the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners.
Myra Heavner comes to the election with a strong background in business in Lincoln County. She started what is now a successful international logistics company based in Lincolnton from scratch. Heavner’s running for school board because she cares about the future and success of Lincoln County, not only as a parent but as a business owner.
“As a parent, I realize the difficulties of raising a child and going through the school system with a total family support system of friends, families, neighbors and church,” she said. “What I want to do is to focus on all of the children and make sure that all children have the same opportunity to get a sound education.”
As a business owner, Heavner said that she realizes that businesses need schools because good schools draw businesses.
“As an employer, we need students that are trained and can go to work out of high school,” she said. “In my business, I know the importance and need for students to either graduate with a global perspective or be ready to go to work. For the last 22 years I’ve been able to see the world through my experiences as the owner of an international logistic company. Being involved in international business has given me the opportunity to be open minded and accept and respect other cultures.”
From a community perspective, she added, it’s important that we invest in education of our students to enter the work force. The company that Heavner owns, SEACORP works with Lincoln County Schools through internship programs.
A graduate of West Lincoln High School, Heavner graduated from Gardner Webb College and has been a business owner for 22 years. She’s a member of the rotary, serves as a parent representative for the Every Student Succeeds Act, she’s been a parent representative for Title 1, volunteered in the schools and her church. She has a son in Lincoln County Schools. Her husband is a business owner in the county as well.
“What qualifies me the most,” she said. “Is that I truly care for Lincoln County and I care about the students. I feel like I’m invested to help make this a great place to life and work just by the actions that I’ve done in the past two years serving the county.”
Previous to this, Heavner admits to never being into politics because she’s been focusing on her family and business.
“People have been good to me and that’s another reason why I want to run,” she said. “Now I feel like at this time in my life that it’s time to give back and pay it forward. I feel like people need to step up and be a voice.”
Because of being a business owner built on win-win outcomes, one of Heavner said that one of her strengths would be to help repair and maintain the relationship between the board of education and the Lincoln County Commissioners because she believes it should be a strong one.
“I think members of the two boards should get in the neighborhoods and speak to the communities to find out what the needs are,” she said. “The needs are different in different parts of the county. I’m not sure everyone is on the same page of what the needs are in the county. I would like to see this be a united board between the school board and the county commissioners where we could go out and see what the needs are. Communication is key and it should not be about politics. Taking care of these kids and making them productive, life-long contributing citizens is the only agenda anyone should have for Lincoln County Schools.”
Heavner would like to see more nurses and counselors in the schools and do whatever it takes to have children ready to learn when they get into the schools.
Again, with reference to her business experience, Heavner knows that you can’t always win and sometimes you have to agree to disagree.
“I believe on making fact-based decisions,” she said. “I don’t always take the most popular or easiest road, but I will be consistent and do what’s right for the kids and be an advocate for the school system.”
Bringing his career in law enforcement to the table, Jon Propst has three children currently in the Lincoln County School system, a fourth has already graduated. He also has numerous family members who are teachers or teacher’s assistants.
“I have an understanding of what they have to deal with regularly,” he said. “I see it firsthand with my kids too. I also see how well that they do. We’ve got a very good school system in Lincoln County and I don’t want us to fall behind or go backwards. Being a career law enforcement officer, this is a way that I can serve the public. Most people know me from either the Sheriff’s Office or the Lincolnton Police Department. I’m at an age in my life where I can devote time to other public service projects.”
Propst said that his experience that would be necessary for being a member of the board comes from common sense. He’s also had past experience on other boards.
“My goal is to bring (to the school board and superintendent) a level of full transparency and accountability,” he said. “I think if we use the general rule of being transparent and hold each other and the superintendent accountable, no matter what the issue is, we can more easily make good decisions. We need to be an active part in our children’s education. We need to hold people accountable and when they succeed, we need to celebrate that.”
A long-term capital improvement plan is something that Propst thinks should be worked on. He also said that he has a good relationship with all of the commissioners currently on the board which he said is because he’s someone they can approach and he’ll “tell it like it is.”
“Sometimes they won’t agree, but they’ll know where I stand,” he said. “My question to them is, what’s the root cause of the relationship being fractured? I’ve heard from both commissioners and current board members there’s issues. I don’t know if it’s common knowledge. Every day my job is to mitigate problems and come up with solutions. I can use that same tack with the board of commissioners and school board.”
Part of the reason why Propst said has a strong relationship with the commissioners is because he’s been the chair of the Lincoln County Republican Party. All of the current commissioners are Republican.
Propst is very much of the opinion that all members of the board of education, including himself if he’s elected, need to be held accountable and be transparent. He also thinks that all discussions should be held in meetings with everyone present and not be done privately.
“Most disagreements are over money and as long as the school board can provide the commissioners with transparent discussion over needs and where money’s going, then there’s no reason why other than a plague or a drastic reduction in county funds, they shouldn’t be able to approve a budget or work through any issues on a budget,” he said. “If you have a school board member or a county commissioner not willing to budget and there’s some underlying issue, I’m not going to have a problem calling them out and they know that.”
Propst would also like to see more money come from the county on an annual basis to help fund band programs. In addition, if he’s elected, he wants to be a liaison between the school board, the schools and law enforcement. He also believes there should be continual staff training for emergency incidents like school shootings.