Michele Branning is shown talking to residents at a debate in the fall (Fort Mill Sun photo)

    Fort Mill Schools Trustee Michele Branning was recently installed as president-elect of the S.C. School Boards Association’s Board of Directors.

   The installation sets her up to serve as president starting next December, and it makes her the first from the Fort Mill School District in over three decades. Anne Suite was the last.

   “I am super excited for this honor,” Branning said Wednesday. “It is huge for our community. … It shows that my peers – our peers – around the state believe in what we are doing and they want to be like us, and want me to be the leader of our association for the year.”

Michele Branning

   Her installment as current president-elect came during Delegate Assembly, SCSBA’s annual business meeting on Dec. 3 in Charleston.  The assembly is part of the association’s Legislative Advocacy Conference each year, which serves as the precursor to the upcoming legislative session.

    Branning’s presence on the state board can have huge implications for policies that will benefit Fort Mill and other similar districts that are seeing huge growth. She said she has been talking to local legislators and school leaders from across the state on ways to help with infrastructure, brainstorming ways to help while decreasing the burden on businesses and the tax they pay.

   The state provides money to poorer districts that don’t have a solid tax base to draw from. Branning said expanding the pot could benefit communities like Fort Mill, which is working hard to keep up with massive population growth and a need for more schools.

   Her main concern is having a pot of state money that could help decrease the debt and provide tax credits for businesses

   “It’s not huge, but it’s a start,” Branning said.  “That is something I have my eye on.”

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    Branning joins seven others elected to the SCSBA board by delegates hailing from the state’s 73 school boards.

  The others include:

•       President, Gail Hughes, Dorchester School District Two

•       Secretary/Treasurer, Charles Govan, Darlington County School District

•       Region 6 Director, Dr. James Smith, Kershaw County School District

•       Region 10 Director, Hannah Priester, Hampton County School District

•       Region 13 Director, Scott Childers, York School District One

•       Region 14 Director, Dr. Sarah Simmons, Spartanburg School District Two

•       Region 15 Director, Glenda Morrison-Fair, Greenville County School District

   In addition to the election of officers, delegates adopted resolutions to guide the association during the 2023 legislative session and approved proposed changes to the SCSBA Constitution and Bylaws.

   Branning was first elected to the Fort Mill school board in 2014. During her tenure, she has served as vice chair of the board, chair of the Policy Committee and as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee.

   She has achieved Level 6 distinction in SCSBA’s Boardmanship Institute, the highest level of recognition awarded by the Association. She has served as the Region 13 director for SCSBA and on the legislative, policy, finance, nominating, training and awards committees.

  Before being elected to the school board, Branning spearheaded parent teacher organizations in Fort Mill, serving as president and co-chair of the 2013 bond referendum initiative.

She was a founding member and a board member for The Fort Mill Gridiron Club, which benefits the district’s football program. Branning served as fundraising chairperson and secretary for the first two years of the organization’s existence. She is the past president and current vice president of the Fort Mill High School JROTC Booster Club.

   Branning is a Rotarian and was named Rotarian of the Year in 2016, 2017 and 2020. She was also recognized by The Rotary Foundation as a Paul Harris Fellow.

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...