Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bob Dunning: School board in for a wild ride

From page A2 | April 09, 2014 |

“Process to fill board vacancy outlined,” said the Page 1, above-the-fold headline over Jeff Hudson’s story in Tuesday’s Davis Enterprise.
“Applications due April 15; appointment set May 8,” said the sub-headline, meaning the Davis school board is on the fast track to find a fifth member to break those awkward 2-2 tie votes.
The seat came open when “trustee Nancy Peterson resigned abruptly on March 6 in the midst of a contentious dispute over the Davis High School boys volleyball coach.”
It was a dispute Peterson appeared to have won when the board voted 3-1 to uphold Julie Crawford’s ouster as boys volleyball coach, only to do an immediate about-face and hire Crawford back as girls volleyball coach for the fall.
In other words, her transgressions were too great to allow her to coach the boys, but her qualities were so superb she was deemed more than capable of coaching the girls.
Such lack of logic brought a sharp public rebuke of the board by Nancy Peterson, who seems incapable of letting this issue fade from memory. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Peterson as an applicant to get her old job back.
But no matter who gets the job on May 8, the appointment will be a brief one, running only until November’s general election.
Given that Peterson was still early in her term and had more than 2 ½ years left to serve, the new appointee will be on the board only until November, at which time the remaining two years of Peterson’s term will be put on the ballot.
At the same time, three other seats will come open, meaning with any luck at all we’ll have nearly an entirely new cast of characters running this town’s schools in 2015 and beyond.
Further complicating matters is the fact that one of the three whose seat will be up for grabs in November is Sheila Allen, currently on the June ballot for a seat on the Davis City Council.
If Allen wins, which is looking more and more like a long shot due to both the strength of the council field and Allen’s role in the volleyball debacle, the school board will have to figure out how to fill her seat between June and November.
As Hudson explains it, “In other words, four seats will be filled in November, with candidates deciding whether they will seek a two-year term or one of the three four-year seats.”
Wow. Odd just got odder. Strange just got stranger. Weird just got weirder.
Generally in this sort of election, given that everyone is elected “at large,” if three seats are available, the top three vote-getters fill those three seats. And voters are allowed to mark their ballots for up to three candidates.
But now we’ll have to have a two-tiered ballot, with one list of candidates for the four-year terms and another list of candidates for the two-year term. The former will have three winners and the latter just one.
Why someone who wants to serve on the board would decide to put all the time, money and effort of a campaign into just a two-year seat is anyone’s guess, and no one seems to know what would happen if no candidates emerge for the two-year seat.
It might seem logical that whoever is selected on May 8 would perhaps be the front-runner for the two-year seat in November, but there’s nothing to stop that person from running for the four-year seat instead. Or simply not running at all.
Also unclear is whether current board members will be out recruiting possible candidates for the May 8 appointment or simply waiting to see who comes walking through the front door.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride continues.

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net





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