Editorial: Slim pickings on Upper Verde school board front this year

A chance happening at a house party turned into a debate over local school board politics:

“You know,” said one of the people involved in the conversation, “I once served one term on the school board.”

“One term? What happened? Did you get beat when you ran for re-election?” another person asked.

“No,” he replied, “I didn’t run for re-election.”

“Why not?”

“I wanted to have friends again.”

No doubt, serving on a local school board is a thankless job and often puts one in the crosshairs of the worst kinds of controversy.

But when you do a close analysis of what’s involved any more in serving on a school board in the Upper Verde Valley, none of us really have room to be critical of those who do step up to the plate.

People are not beating the door down to serve on our local school boards. In fact, for the 12 available local school board seats up for election this year for the Mingus Union, Cottonwood-Oak Creek, Clarkdale-Jerome, Valley Academy and Yavapai College districts, we have exactly 12 candidates this year.

There will be only one contested race in those five districts, as Cottonwood-Oak Creek attracted four candidates for the three available seats. Mingus and Clarkdale-Jerome had just barely enough candidates to fill the seats up for election this year. The two Yavapai College board seats that represent the Verde Valley attracted one candidate each. The Valley Tech district was one candidate short of automatically filling its available seats, meaning County School Superintendent Tim Carter will have to recruit and appoint a person to the job.

Ah, but you can be sure the first time one of the these school board members makes an unpopular-but-necessary vote on a controversial issue, people will be shouting “recall.”

You would especially think all those vocal folks from Cornville who continually claim their school has been short-changed would be willing to be a decision-maker instead of a Monday-morning quarterback.

Ditto for those who are so vocal about the closing and subsequent conversion of Tavasci from a traditional public school to International Baccalaureate.

The same goes for those who scream the school board is nothing more than a rubber-stamp for the superintendent.

It’s obviously easier to criticize than it is to take the bold move of actually making such tough decisions.

Also obvious is the fact that there are not many people out there in the Upper Verde bold enough to make those kinds of decisions.

Thank God there a few brave souls left.

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