Shepard, Logan to compete in general election for at-large school board seat

Joseph Shepard, fourth from left, is moving on to the general election for the school board’s at-large seat. He’s shown celebrating with friends, including City Council member Brandon Johnson to his right, and family during a watch party.
Joseph Shepard, fourth from left, is moving on to the general election for the school board’s at-large seat. He’s shown celebrating with friends, including City Council member Brandon Johnson to his right, and family during a watch party. The Wichita Eagle

Updated 8:43 p.m.: With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Joseph Shepard and Sheril Logan are the at-large school board candidates who will compete in the general election.

Shepard had almost 33 percent of the vote, and Logan had almost 30 percent.

Candidate Trish Hileman had almost 25 percent, and candidate Brent Davis had not quite 13 percent.

Updated 8:19 p.m.: Sheril Logan said she feels “pretty good” about returns and is already working with her committee to plan out her campaign in the general election as the tallies roll in.

“Right now, Joseph and I are the top two, which is kind of what I expected.”

Updated 8:16 p.m.: With 63 percent of precincts reporting, at-large school board candidate Joseph Shepard continues to lead with more than 32 percent of the vote. Wichita school board president Sheril Logan has 30. 7 percent, Trish Hileman has almost 25 percent, and Brent Davis has just over 12 percent.

Updated 8:05 p.m.: With 25 percent of the vote in, Trish Hileman expressed disappointment at being in third place with just over 24 percent of the vote.

“The last time I was in an election, the percentages didn’t change a ton, so we’ll see,” she said. “I’m not giving up hope.”

Updated 7:53 p.m.: At-large school board candidate Joseph Shepard expressed gratitude for an early lead thanks to early ballots.

“I’m feeling humble and grateful that right now we have a small lead and really grateful that a lot of people turned out for early voting,” he said. “That has been our goal — really to push our young people to the polls early and really as many people to the polls as early as possible.”

With about a quarter of the precincts reporting, Shepard has a slight lead over Wichita school board president Sheril Logan for the at-large seat in the only Wichita school race on Tuesday’s primary ballot.

Contender Joseph Shepard leads with 34 percent of the vote, followed by Logan with 30 percent and Trish Hileman with 24.5 percent. Brent Davis has about 11 percent so far.

Two candidates will qualify for November’s general election.

Logan, 74, has served on the board since 2011 with three stints as president and one as vice president. She told The Eagle that the school district’s most pressing issue is implementing its 2018 strategic plan.

Goals of the strategic plan include raising the graduation rate, increasing third-grade reading proficiency, making more certifications and college credits available to students and increasing school safety.

Shepard, 26, is director of multicultural engagement and community life at Newman University. He’s said that when talking about the needs of young people, young voices should be at the table. Shepard says the district must focus on the holistic development of students by pushing for academic advancement while “boldly” addressing the trauma students face.

Shepard, who identifies as bisexual, has said that some schools aren’t doing enough to protect LGBTQ students and staff. He has a master’s degree in public administration and is the former student body president of Wichita State University, where he frequently pushed back against university leaders and lobbied for more public discussion of university business.

Hileman, 44, is executive director of the nonprofit Thrive Community and president of the College Hill Neighborhood Association. She has five years of experience gathering community feedback for the school board.

All five of Hileman’s children, including two with special needs, will be attending Wichita schools this fall, which she said gives her a unique perspective. She has advocated for greater transparency and said she hopes to improve the board’s community engagement.

Davis, 56, is director of Complete Education Inc, an educational services company that specializes in preparing high school students for high-stakes standardized tests.

He told The Eagle Wichita schools are inadequately preparing students for college and careers and said incentives must be implemented to encourage learning and promote efficiency within the district.

Ernestine Krehbiel, the district 3 incumbent from south-central Wichita, is running unopposed. The only other contested school board race, in District 4 representing southwest Wichita, doesn’t have enough candidates to justify a primary. In all, there are seven seats on the school board. Terms for the other four members expire in 2020.

Board members set policy and oversee a budget of $737 million for a district with about 50,600 students — the state’s largest. Members serve four-year terms and earn no pay for twice-monthly meetings and other work.

There are a number of issues facing the district.

The average age of school buildings is 57 years old. Also, the ability to fill open positions continues to be a challenge, particularly in math, special education and science.

More than 70 percent of the district’s students quality for free and reduced lunches, and more than 35,000 are considered “at risk” with issues that affect their behavior and ability to achieve at school.