Butler County Times Gazette
  • Local BOE struggling with election process

  • In the recent elections members ran in District 1 and 2, but no one filed in District 3, which leaves an empty seat.
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  • At Monday night's monthly USD 402 Board of Education meeting, the board discussed the method in which Augusta's school board members are elected.
    The current voting plan allows voters to vote only for candidates in their member district in the primary election, but allows them to vote for all positions in the general election.
    In the recent elections members ran in District 1 and 2, but no one filed in District 3, which leaves an empty seat.
    "The scary thing is that a person with issues or an agenda could have won with just three write-in votes," Superintendent Dr. John Black continued, "The unofficial word at this point is that there were 30 write-in votes for all three districts. None had three votes. There were two who had more, but didn't live in District 3."
    Black added that he was surprised in the general election to find that voters were able to vote for candidates in all three districts.
    BOE President Bob McCalla moved from his district into District 3 and board member Larry Winter chose not to run against him, thus creating an empty seat in that district.
    "I probably would have run if I'd been able to run as an at-large candidate," Winter advised and continued, "I favor district elections for the city council, but I currently have four schools in my district - for the size we are - I just don't see it...let's face it, people move all the time, which creates problems. Right now we have five living in District 1, two living in District 2, and no one in District 3. It seems it would be simpler if we had at-large candidates."
    McCalla shared that he knew residents who wanted to run for School Board, but did not live in District 3.
    The position will be vacant in June and that will take the board down to six members. A two-year appointment will need to be made.
    It is expected that discussion will continue on changing the method of elections. The options include:
    1. Two-member districts with three board members in each district, and one member at-large;
    2. Three-member districts with two board members in each district and one at-large;
    3. Six-member districts with one board member in each district and one at-large; or,
    4. All board members elected at-large
    (K.S.A. 72-8009)
    The board is also expected to research and determine how many school districts in Kansas are at-large districts.
    Crosswalk frustration
    Superintendent Black shared his frustration concerning the Augusta Middle School crosswalk, sidewalk and entry concrete project in his monthly construction update to the board.
    "There are several challenges that come with this project. Most of them are related to making the sidewalk and entry ADA accessible. In order to make the sidewalk ADA accessible, then the steps would have to be changed. Because the options require a ramp system or a slope with the appropriate degree of rise in the walk, we're looking between $70,000 and $80,000 for the concrete project and we would still have the traffic problem on State St."
    Page 2 of 2 - Black advised that he has no easy answer and would get back to the board after discussing options with a civil engineer.
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