Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Voters keep school board

Gilligan leads tally in Cincinnati district

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati school district voters supported the status quo Tuesday night by re-electing three school board incumbents.

Former Ohio Gov. John J. Gilligan got the most votes of seven candidates facing off in the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education race, according to unofficial election results.

Gilligan, 82, began his political career 50 years ago when he was elected to Cincinnati City Council in 1953. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives before becoming governor (1971-75). He was elected to his first term on the school board in 1999.

Rick Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati, and Florence Newell, associate professor at the University of Cincinnati, also were re-elected to their second four-year terms.

With 99.5 percent of precincts reporting, Gilligan had 23 percent of the vote; Newell secured nearly 21 percent and Williams followed with 17 percent.

"I'm surprised and gratified by the vote," Gilligan said.

Gilligan said politics still calls him to serve.

"Essentially, it is that after I came back to Cincinnati after being away a long time, I came to the conclusion that the most important question in society today is how and whether we are going to be able to prepare children for the new age in which they're going.

"Clearly, urban school districts throughout the United States are not doing very well. I thought maybe I could be helpful."

The re-election of incumbents means continuity at a critical time for the district.

School district voters in May approved a decade-long $1 billion project to build and renovate 66 schools in the 41,000-student school district. The project is under way.

The school system, rated in "academic emergency" by the state, is also implementing a districtwide school curriculum. Superintendent Alton Frailey has said the curriculum is necessary so all schools teach the state's academic standards, which students are tested on.

Challengers were Robert Killins Jr., with 13 percent of the vote; Derry Hooks II, 11 percent; Alan Coleman, 9 percent; and Roy McGrath, 7 percent. Percentages are rounded.


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