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Schools Chief's Backers Win Kansas City Board Seats

A trio of candidates who support Kansas City, Mo., Superintendent John W. Covington's recent decision to close nearly half the district's schools won school board elections Tuesday night, the Kansas City Star reports.

The new members include two people in their mid-20s. They had expressed full support for Covington's transformation plan for the district, which includes not just school closings and reorganizations, but also a major revamping of academics and fiscal operations, as well as introduction of performance-pay initiatives for teachers. An incumbent running for re-election, Cokethea Hill, lost her seat, while two other seats had been left open by retiring members.

In recent days, local observers had watched the races closely, viewing the elections as a referendum on Covington's plans, which were passed on a 5-4 vote by the board last month.

In a statement released Tuesday, Covington thanked all who ran. He had remained studiously neutral during the school board campaign, as most superintendents do.

"The transformation of this district will take a committed team whose unwavering support and focus must be on teaching and learning in the new millennium," he said.

The new board is expected to be sworn in next Wednesday and will select officers then.

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