Elections

Retirees, student in school board race

Two retirees and a 22-year-old master's degree student will face one another in the general election for the Wichita school board's at-large seat.

Sheril Logan, a former teacher, principal and assistant superintendent, was the top vote-getter in Tuesday's primary.

She will face Phil Neff, a retired insurance broker, and Carly Miller, a real estate agent pursuing her master's in public administration at Wichita State University.

"We just all have to get our heads on straight and talk about what's right for kids, and that's my focus," said Logan, 65, who watched returns with supporters at her west Wichita home.

Neff, 69, former chairman of the Wichita Community Foundation, had raised considerably more money than Logan and his other challengers, according to financial disclosure forms filed last week — more than $10,000 compared with Miller's $4,400 and Logan's $3,190.

Neff said he was inspired to run after mentoring a Wichita student for five years as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

He says he would bring a businessman's perspective to a board that has faced three straight years of cuts in state aid to schools.

"We've got to live within the realities of the budget that our economy creates for us, so that's a primary focus," Neff said Tuesday.

"We've also got to find a way to engage parents... in the process of their children's education," he said. "And we've got to find a way to reward excellence in teaching."

Miller, who checked returns during breaks in a public decision making class at WSU on Tuesday evening, captured the third spot by a narrow margin over Kim Bush and Susan Kiefer.

Election officials say 88 provisional ballots have yet to be counted and could alter the results.

Miller joked that her primary campaign was "the best one I've ever done," then noted that both her opponents are first-time candidates as well.

"I'm different. I'm not the status quo," she said. "And I think it would be really great to get a different voice on the school board."

Miller said she didn't plan to celebrate the primary results too much because she had to finish a paper that's due today for a class on nonprofit management.

She said her goal in coming weeks will be "to get out in front of as many people as I can" to share her priorities and vision for the district.

A 2006 graduate of Goddard High School, Miller said two of her top priorities are early childhood education and "giving teachers a bigger role and a bigger voice in decision-making."

The Wichita school district — the state's largest, with about 50,000 students — faces several difficult issues in coming months. In addition to cutting the budget, the board will negotiate a new teacher contract and redraw school attendance boundaries.

Leaders recently voted to re-examine a $370 million bond issue after the loss of state and federal money they had counted on to help finance construction projects.

Only one of the three seats up for election on the seven-member board required a primary.

In District 3, board member Barb Fuller, a retired teacher and former teachers union president, is unopposed in her bid for a second term.

In District 4, incumbent Jeff Davis, a Wichita police sergeant, will have two opponents — Michael Ackerman Jr. and Clayton Houston — in the general election.

At-large board member Kevass Harding will finish his second term on the board this summer and is not seeking re-election.

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