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Lincoln County School Board’s election ‘solution’ exacerbates the problem

When and how did Lincoln County School Board elections get so messed up? Those are questions the school board and its attorney are trying to answer.  The Attorney General’s Office is even involved.

At some point in the past, school board members did not have an election when they should have.  And now current board members’ terms are out of sync with the state’s election calendar.

Once this was discovered, the Attorney General’s Office and the board worked out a plan to eventually get the elections back on track. When a board member’s term expires, the board will appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the correct election date.

The problem with that plan is that it leaves residents without elected representatives on the school board. District 1 and 2 seats will be appointed from 2019-2023, District 3 and 4 seats will be appointed from 2022-2025 and the District 5 seat was appointed in January.

Since the superintendent of education will be appointed in 2019, the county will have a majority-appointed board appointing the superintendent.

That’s not how it should work, and when the Legislature passed a law requiring school boards to appoint superintendents, it was with the understanding that the board was an elected body. Lincoln County’s situation results in residents with little control over the leadership of the school district. That’s unfortunate and should be corrected sooner than the board plans on correcting it.

So what’s the solution? The easiest fix would be to hold elections and let those board members serve until the terms end as the state calendar says they should. To argue that doing so is unfair to the board members ignores the fact that the current solution is arguably unfair to the thousands of residents impacted by this decision.

We hope the board, its attorney and the AG’s office can come up with a better solution than simply appointing seats until the next election in 2020 or 2022 or 2024.