Education

Wichita school board to consider resolution against moving time of local elections

Voters take advantage of advance voting at the election office in the old Sedgwick County courthouse. A new proposal in the Kansas Legislature would move local elections from the spring to the fall. (Oct. 27, 2014)
Voters take advantage of advance voting at the election office in the old Sedgwick County courthouse. A new proposal in the Kansas Legislature would move local elections from the spring to the fall. (Oct. 27, 2014) File photo

The Wichita school board on Monday will consider a resolution to oppose moving local elections to the fall.

The proposed resolution calls upon the Kansas Legislature to “pass no law changing the election cycle” for local school boards. It also opposes any move to make local elections partisan.

Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, introduced a bill last week that he’s calling the Help Kansas Vote Act.

The bill does not yet have a number assigned to it, but according to Holmes’ staff, it would move local elections to the fall, end nonpartisan elections for local office, allow voters to vote a straight ticket and revoke a state law requiring that election officials rotate names on ballots.

Similar measures have been proposed in recent years. Supporters say the larger turnout in fall elections offers a better gauge of public sentiment. Opponents worry that moving local elections to November would reduce focus on school board candidates and other candidates for local office because they would compete for attention on a much-lengthier ballot.

The resolution Wichita board members will consider is based on a sample resolution suggested by the Kansas Association of School Boards, which opposes changing election dates and making local elections partisan.

It argues that moving school board elections from the spring to the fall also would “impair a school district’s efficient operation” based on the fiscal calendar. School board members elected in April take office July 1, just as districts are developing their budgets.

Other local boards, including the Wichita City Council last year, have passed resolutions opposing the legislative move to end spring local elections.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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