Elections

Incumbent defeats young candidate who brought attention to the Wichita school board race

He added a dose of excitement that a school board campaign doesn’t usually see, but Joseph Shepard did not prevail in his race against incumbent Sheril Logan for the at-large school district seat.

“Joseph was a good opponent,” Logan said. “I’m sure we’ll hear from him again. He’s got lots to offer.”

Logan had almost 53 percent of the vote to Shepard’s more than 46 percent.

“The percentage is good enough that I’m happy tonight,” Logan said.

So was incumbent Stan Reeser in District 4. He had 50 percent of the vote to James W. Kilpatrick’s 49 percent.

Although the race was close, Reeser is ahead by more than 300 votes, and he said Kilpatrick called to concede.

Results of the school board and city races are not final until the canvass on Nov. 15 and the provisional ballots are either counted or disqualified. The number of provisional ballots - those cast by voters whose eligibility is in doubt - was not known Tuesday evening. The election commissioners office said it would have a number on Wednesday.

Logan, 74, has served on the board since 2011 with three stints as president and one as vice president. Going forward, she said her focus will remain on the district’s strategic plan, which has been implemented for a year.

“In four more years, it will be the way we do business in the Wichita school district,” she said.

The plan includes increasing graduation rates; increasing third grade reading proficiency; offering career, tech ed and college preparation; and providing safe environments for all students.

“I really believe that’s going to raise achievement for every kid in our district, and it’s the right thing to do,” Logan said.

Shepard — a 26-year-old black bisexual with an ever-present smile who sported a bow tie and purple pocket square on Election Night — said he was “at peace” with the election.

“We have created a movement,” he said. “The way people look at our school district will not be the same. I think that we have activated our young people in this community to pay attention to what’s going on, what school board members do and to hold them accountable. So overall, I’m feeling optimistic, and I think this is a win-win situation for me no matter what.”

Shepard said his work will continue — literally at 5:40 a.m. Wednesday when he planned to board a plane to Kentucky to speak to high school students. When he lands back in Wichita on Friday, he said he’ll go to Wichita State University to help raise scholarship funds for women.

“My passion, my work and my commitment to helping young people propel, it’s going to continue.”

In District 4, Reeser, 57, was appointed to the board in 2017 to fill the unexpired term of former board member Jeff Davis.

Reeser said he is happy to have four more years to work on the board.

“What I want to do is . . . turn this personal victory into a win for the school district, the educators, students and the community at large.”

Ernestine Krehbiel, the District 3 incumbent from south-central Wichita, ran unopposed and had more than 97 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting. There were 671 write-in candidates.

The retired high school history and government teacher was appointed to the board in December 2017. Her district includes parts of south and southeast Wichita.

Board members set policy and oversee a budget of $761 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, including aging buildings, difficultly in filling open positions — particularly in math, special education and science — and more than 35,000 children who are considered “at risk” with issues that affect their behavior and ability to achieve at school.

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Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.
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