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K.C. School Board Hopefuls Rush to Join Ballot

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With fewer storm-free shopping days before Christmas this year, many folks aren't paying much attention to the new year that begins next week, let alone any local government elections.

But in Kansas City, Mo., people are so motivated to run in the upcoming school board election that a half-dozen were already in line with their petitions when the board secretary arrived yesterday morning, reports Joe Robertson of The Kansas City Star. One woman told Robertson she spent the night in her car in front of the district offices to ensure she'd be first in line to file her petition for April's school board race. How's that for dedication?

Kansas City's school district has had a bumpy last few years, including less-than-cheerful board-superintendent relations and disappointing state test results.

The board brought on a new superintendent, John Covington, in July to help shake things up in the 18,000-student school district, which is under the state's watchful eye because of a lack of academic progress. Covington and his staff have already begun streamlining a staff they said was far too large for a school district its size and even sued a neighboring school district last week that it says has not fulfilled a revenue agreement.

In 2006, incumbents ran opposed, and in 2008, one person ran a contested race, while one seat with no candidate on the ballot was filled by a write-in candidate. But voters apparently are looking for more change in 2010.

At least three of the five incumbents whose seats are up for grabs are planning to run for re-election, making this the first real contested election in some time for the district.

I'll be keeping an eye on this and letting you all know how this shapes up for Kansas City, including what it means for the turnaround project the district is working on with the state of Missouri.

In the meantime, enjoy some well-deserved time off. I, like many of our Education Week staffers, will be taking some vacation over the next week, so postings will be infrequent at best until most schools start up again in two weeks.

Please rejoin me at District Dossier in January as we track and analyze news from the nation's school districts.

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