Thursday, August 10, 2000

School board races have few candidates

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Who wants to be a school board member?

        Often, few hands go up in response to this question. And this fall's field of candidates for Northern Kentucky school boards doesn't seem to have many new people clamoring for the job.

        There are 33 open seats on the school boards in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties. Of those, only 11 will be contested. And of the 43 candidates, about 60 percent are incumbents.

        “If people are satisfied and the incumbents are willing to serve, an uncontested election is not an unusual thing,” said Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association. “If people are upset ... that tends to bring more folks who are willing to come out and run.” That seems to be true in Covington, whose school board race drew the largest number of candidates.

        The Covington board, which has been plagued by infighting and two highly critical reviews from the state Education Department, has seven candidates vying for three open seats this fall.

        But the majority of school districts across the state often have difficulty drawing candidates, and Northern Kentucky faces an even tougher challenge, Mr. Hughes said.

        With 14 school districts in the three Northern Kentucky counties, some covering very small geographical areas, the pool of possible candidates isn't that deep.

        “There's a much smaller group of adults to recruit from,” Mr. Hughes said.

        And serving on a volunteer school board is a thankless job. It seems people are finding more opportunities to get involved in schools, such as parent-teacher groups, school councils and booster clubs, Mr. Hughes said.

        These jobs, unlike school board positions, “don't require as much time or as tough decisions, such as expelling a child, raising taxes or changing the school year,” he said.


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- School board races have few candidates
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