SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – Newly elected Dorchester School District 2 board members have officially started their term.

Newcomers Cynthia Powell and Kellie Bates took their seats for the first time when they were sworn in during the school board meeting on Monday night. There were four board openings this election. Incumbents Justin Farnsworth and Gail Hughes won the other two seats.

All four board members took the Oath of Office alongside their families at the district headquarters in Summerville.

“The first thing we have to do is we’ve got to make sure our new board members are all up to speed with everything that’s going on and things we’re currently working on, and we’ve already began that training with them. And once we do that, I think it’s just going to be business as usual,” Hughes said.

Farnsworth, Hughes, and Powell were all endorsed by the South Carolina Education Association. Bates was endorsed by the Dorchester County Republican Party.

When asked about their goals for this upcoming year, leaders pointed to the topics of school safety and teacher retention.

“Safety and security is always paramount. I think we’ve got to continue to look at those pieces for our kids. We’ve got to make sure our kids feel safe,” Farnsworth said.

Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins said it’s becoming more difficult to recruit and retain educators.

“That’s something that we are going to have to be aggressive about how we’re going to go out, how we’re going to incentivize, you know, avenues to keep people in the district.

Leadership roles within the board were also decided on Monday. Farnsworth was appointed secretary and Board Member Ashley Wimberly was elected vice chair.

The new board will oversee DD2’s 3,000 employees and more than 25,000 students, according to the district’s website. Powell and Bates were not available for an interview.