School Board seats six new members, elects slate of officers

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The Beaufort County Board of Education seated six new members and elected a new slate of officers last week.

The six new members who took their oaths of office were elected in November. They were William Smith in District 3 (Portions of St. Helena Island, Lady’s Island and Beaufort); Patricia Fidrych in District 4 (Portions of Port Royal, Shell Point and Parris Island); Richard Geier in District 5 (portions of Burton and Beaufort); Rachel Wisnefski in District 7 (portions of Bluffton and Okatie); Cathy Robine in District 8 (portions of Bluffton and Hilton Head Island); and Melvin Campbell in District 10 (portions of northern and mid-Hilton Head Island).

David Striebinger won a second term to represent District 2 (portions of Beaufort, Burton, Lady’s Island and St. Helena Island).

Veteran board member Christina Gwozdz was elected as chair, and new member Cathy Robine was elected as vice chair.  New board member William Smith was elected as secretary.  Their terms will last through January 2021.

Gwozdz, a physician, is a board-certified otolaryngologist who is owner and manager of Palmetto Ear, Nose and Throat on Hilton Head Island. She also was a co-founder and co-owner of the Outpatient Surgery Center of Hilton Head.

Gwozdz has represented District 9 (portions of Bluffton and Pritchardville, and also Daufuskie Island) since January 2017. Her three sons attended district schools, and she has volunteered in numerous capacities at district schools.

“One of my priorities is to help the board regain the community’s trust and support for our public schools,” Gwozdz said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting the board’s key challenges, the most immediate of which is searching for and hiring an excellent superintendent.”

In her first action as chair, Gwozdz appointed Fidrych and Wisnefski to join Earl Campbell as the district’s three representatives on the board of trustees for the Beaufort Jasper Academy of Career Excellence.

Photo at top: Front row (seated, left to right) are Vice Chair Cathy Robine, Chair Christina Gwozdz and Secretary William Smith. Back row (standing, left to right) are Rachel Wisnefski, Richard Geier, Melvin Campbell, Patricia Fidrych, John Dowling, David Striebinger, JoAnn Orischak and Earl Campbell.

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