This Election Day in Minneapolis, the ballot is full of weighty education issues. First, three of the Minneapolis Board of Education’s seven seats are up for grabs, with six candidates in the running, including incumbents Lydia Lee and Sharon Henry-Blythe. The ballot also has two referendum issues, one for a property tax increase to raise money for the schools and the other for a change to election by districts for school board members.
School board candidates
At the start of September, the Daily Planet and the Bridge teamed up to profile all nine candidates in the primaries. The six that made it through to the general election are:
– Carla Bates
– Jill Davis
– Sharon Henry-Blythe
– Lydia Lee
– Doug Mann
– Kari Reed
Election by district?
Currently, members of the Minneapolis school board are elected “at large,” meaning each candidate represents the entire city. A referendum on the November 4 ballot proposes a change to election by districts (bottom of the webpage). If the ballot measure passes, beginning with the next school board election in two years, two candidates per election will be elected from districts around the city, and two additional candidates will be elected “at large,” leaving the school board with nine members by 2012. For arguments for and against this referendum issue, see:
Congressman Ellison and Mayor Rybak endorse school board districting referendum by ABC Referendum Committee
Why I oppose the Davnie Bill by Pam Costain
Vote Yes on School Board election referendum by Carla Bates
“Strong Schools, Strong City” referendum
This referendum will share space on the ballot with the “Strong Schools, Strong City” referendum, which asks Minneapolis voters to approve an average $17 per-person property tax increase to raise money for the schools. Opponents have decried the referendum as “throwing more money at the problems” in Minneapolis’s school system, while public school officials and referendum supporters have cast it as necessary funding to maintain the schools and launch new reform initiatives. For more on this referendum, see Voting to raise taxes.
Two blog and op/ed articles support this referendum:
Vote yes on the 2008 Minneapolis School Referendum: The power to make the change we need by Education Equity Organizing Collaborative
Our public schools are still a good investment by Kate Towle
James Sanna is a freelance writer and an intern covering education issues for the Daily Planet.