Chapman is chairing the newly minted Neighbors For a Better Cherokee, a political action committee that advocates for local control of the school system.
Chapman said the organization is a way for him to continue his mission to support the local school system.
“While I have to step down from the school board at the end of the year, I’m never standing down when it comes to supporting our schools and local community,” Chapman said.
Chapman said about 20 people came to the group’s first meeting a couple of weeks ago, but that many more have been donating to the cause.
“A lot of folks have been saying this is exactly what they’ve been wanting to get involved with,” he said.
He said the group is looking at several different ventures, including signage and mailings, but one of its major priorities is to address some of the “inaccurate information” he’s seen on social media networks from local politicians and candidates.
“We’ve had a number of meetings to focus on exactly what we’ll be able to do in such a short amount of time,” Chapman said, referring to the fact that early voting for the July 31 primary begins on Monday.
In a letter on the organization’s website, Chapman said the Cherokee County School District is “providing our children with an outstanding education, as evidenced by increasing academic achievement, even as the number of our students living in poverty rises.”
He noted that the district continues to thrive in the face of increased enrollment, “gutted” state funding and reduced local dollars available due to the decline in the county’s property tax digest.
Chapman, whose wife teaches in the school district, said he and other business people, community volunteers and local leaders, created the PAC to advocate for “local control relative to public education initiatives and to support local political candidates who make public education their top priority.”
The PAC supports smaller government, lower taxes and choice in schools, Chapman added.
“But (we) also believe in supporting our communities, families, children and local school systems,” Chapman said.
The group has endorsed four candidates for the upcoming July 31 Republican primary election: School Board Chair candidate Janet Read, School Board Post 1 candidate Kyla Cromer, School Board Post 2 candidate Patsy Jordan and Brandon Beach, who is challenging Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) for the District 21 seat.
“I’ve lived in Cherokee County a long time, and this election is the most important one in recent history for our schools, our community and our children,” Chapman said.
Neighbors for ABC is not endorsing Republican candidates for the state House of Representative races, but Chapman hinted at where his support lies.
“Anybody is better than the incumbents,” he said.
Chapman, who has served on the school board since 2002, has been a vocal critic of the Cherokee County’s legislative delegation’s reapportionment process for school board districts.
Chapman in the past has said the delegation’s maps amounted to “gerrymandering,” which drew him and School Board Vice Chair Janet Read out of their current districts.
While his term will soon come to an end, that isn’t stopping him from giving his two cents on the current political climate.
Chapman said he’s “disgusted” by some elected officials and others campaigning for office.
“There are some who appear to take great pleasure in attacking the success of our schools and our hard-working educators to please supporters and contributors – many of whom see public education as an untapped source of income for them through privatization,” Chapman wrote in the letter.
Other members of the organization include school district teacher and Michael Sinco, treasurer who also serves as vice president of Cherokee Citizens for the Kids; and Carol Taylor, who serves as the group’s secretary.
Chapman said the group has other members from both of those organizations as well as other PTA and local leaders.
Taylor, who also is the spokesperson for Cherokee P.A.N.T.S., or People Advocating for the Need of Transparent Funding for Schools, said Tuesday the PAC has no public informational meetings scheduled at this time, but will have more information about their efforts “relatively soon.”
Taylor said she became involved with the PAC for the same reasons she became involved with Cherokee P.A.N.T.S.—to help the community become more involved and aware of the issues.
“It’s the right thing to do for our community,” she said. “It’s about preserving our schools, our homes values. To me, there’s no question, it’s the right thing to do.”