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Chelsey McNicoll
Chelsey McNicoll - photo by Photo submitted

GUYTON — According to Chelsey McNicoll, the Effingham County Board of Education needs a jolt of energy and a fresh perspective.

A South Effingham Elementary School parent and volunteer, McNicoll is aiming to unseat District 2 incumbent Troy Alford. Her concerns include school traffic, enrollment growth, student safety and teacher performance.  

“If elected, I don’t think I can do anything by myself but I would hope to have the voices of these parents, the educators and the citizens (to) talk about what they want and help them do what is right for the community,” she said.

McNicoll, who moved to Effingham County with her husband in 2014, is a four-year member of the Rotary Club of Effingham County, Garden Club member, former Girl Scout, Boy Scout leader and active member of her church in Springfield.

She graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2008 with a degree in Business Administration in Marketing.

In some instances, McNicoll believes the board has been reactive instead of proactive. She mentioned population growth in District 2 as an example.

“I think I have a pretty well-rounded understanding of what needs to happen,” she said. “I feel like we have not done the best by District 2.  I think very highly of Troy Alford but at some point you need change.

“Things are different now.”

She continued, “Where are these people going to go to school? That’s the demographic that is moving into this area. It’s me. It’s people with young kids. They are moving out to the south end (of the county) for the school system and they are building these big houses on small pieces of property.

“We have to prepare for it.”

McNicoll said she has developed a deeper appreciation for teachers since schools closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has been helping her boys, a kindergartner and fourth grader, with their studies at home.

“There is a special place in heaven for kindergarten teachers,” McNicoll said.

McNicoll said many parents have told her that students are receiving too much homework. She said a cap on the amount of time spent on digital learning might be a good idea.

“I think this has made us all realize that teachers are very, very important and they need to be compensated well,” she said.

The candidate’s goals for the school district include:

1. Improve traffic around schools.

a. Roundabouts, traffic lights and lobby for DOT/ county support for our district.

— i. Each end of Kolic Helmey

— ii. Midland Road

— iii. McCall and Blue Jay

— iv. Goshen and Hodgeville

b. Have more traffic signals added in District 2 because of the growth.

c. Work with Gulfstream and Effingham County to build an annex within our county limits to reduce traffic to Savannah as 70 percent of our residents in this district travel into Savannah for employment.

2. Sustain high-quality education in Effingham County.

a. Work with educators on how they can do their job better.

b. Make parents’ lives easier by reducing homework and offering more after-school programs and free tutoring to students.

c. Develop a five-year plan to accommodate growth in the south area of Effingham County.

d. Reduce class sizes.

3. Fair representation for students, teachers and educators.

a. Keep parents informed by posting updates on social media.

b. Bring in parents and teachers concerns before the school board.

c. Communication.

4. Work with the nutrition department to bring in local sourced produce for our students and teachers.

5. Address child safety.

a. Address policies for social media bullying and other venues of exclusion.

b. Survey middle and high schools regularly about whether they feel safe, respected and cared about.

c. Shadow children to better understand what a day in the life of our students look like.

d. Market telemedicine and expand telemedicine to address mental health needs by offering counseling for Board of Education staff, parents and students.

e. Work toward installing more cameras on buses in Effingham County.

6. Work with Effingham County to make sure that they understand that we need good growth and smart growth.

a. Lobby for high-wage jobs in the county to remain a tier 4 community.

b. Limit mass developments.

c. Ensure that we have proper planning for substantial predicted growth in Effingham County.

7. Achieve all of these things without raising taxes for the residents of Effingham County.

a. Lobby for more state funds.

b. Review property tax distribution to municipalities to ensure that tax dollars are used wisely and where the needs are the greatest.

— i. While schools in District 2 are at maximum capacity, she wants to make sure that taxpayers’ money is being invested in their best interest and the needs of the citizens.