Patrons of West Franklin offered some spring cleaning Tuesday, bringing a clean sweep of the school board’s incumbents on the ballot.
Of the 10 candidates vying for four open seats on the board, all four incumbents were defeated during Tuesday’s vote in Franklin County’s most highly contested election.
Among those incumbents includes the board’s president, Thayne Bush, who has served on the board for four years. Matt Froggatte triumphed over Bush and Bruce Rockhold by capturing 437 of the 859 total votes. Bush acquired 312 votes and Rockhold earned 110.
While he said he wishes the new board members luck, Bush expressed Wednesday his disappointment in losing the race, noting that he opted not to campaign but rather stand by his voting record.
“It looked like it turned into a one-issue campaign ... But that’s what the people wanted,” Bush said, referring to West Franklin’s highly contentious bond issue, which will be decided by patrons in a June 4 election. “There is a lot more that goes on than just one item and most of the newly elected said in the forum that [the bond issue] was the reason they were there. ... I felt all along that I didn’t want to close schools and raise taxes, but for the long-term that’s the best option. They may change their minds when they sit on the board and see what they’ve got themselves into. ... I wish the newly elected members good luck, and my advice would be to educate yourself and do what’s best for the kids.”
Pleased with his win, Froggatte said Wednesday he felt honored by patrons’ support.
“I was humbled and grateful — I was surprised at the sweep,” Froggatte, who has four children in West Franklin schools, said, adding that the newly assembled board likely will re-examine the bond issue.
“I think we’re going to have to get through the bond election and figure out where the patrons want to go once we figure that out,” Froggatte said. “You’ve got to invest in the future. That was my biggest [reason to run] — making a difference for my kids and for the generations to come.”
In the board’s other votes, Jackie Robbins thwarted fellow Pomona resident and board incumbent Stacia Spencer by snagging 556 of the 826 total votes.
Carol Scott Hamilton defeated incumbent Stacy Hower with a 455-385 vote.
Newcomer Daniel Arnett defeated both incumbent Sherry Harris and Carrie Lira with 394 of the 854 total votes. Harris garnered 343 ballots of support while Lira earned 117 votes.
The votes will not become official until a Monday canvass, Franklin County Clerk Janet Paddock said.
While the community soon will welcome four newly elected officials, Dotson Bradbury, West Franklin schools superintendent, said he will greet a quartet of new employers this summer when the board turns over.
“I will soon have four new bosses,” Bradbury said Wednesday. “That’s the role of the superintendent — that you’re the board’s only employee.”
In addition to becoming acclimated to a governing body, Bradbury said, the new members likely will need some guidance in procedural matters. To accomplish that, he said, the members can learn from the Kansas Association of School Boards.
“I think one of the first things with any new board is that there’s a certain amount of education that will need to take place,” Bradbury said. “[The new board members] can learn from the board association. [The Kansas Association of School Boards] gives training regarding roles and responsibilities of the board so that they become informed as to what responsibilities they have and what statues could impact their lives.”
Regardless of its new composition, the school board cannot stop the June 4 vote on a $14.3-million bond issue, Bradbury said previously.
“While the [school board] election is held in April, new board members do not officially take office until the first school board meeting, which would be the second Monday in July,” Bradbury said. “The bond election is in June, so whatever action the voters take — whether to approve a bond issue or not to approve a bond issue — that measure would stand. ... They could not overturn what the voters have decided.”
If approved, the bond would help finance an estimated $16-million project to improve West Franklin’s middle and high schools and provide a centralized campus for all district schools. If the bond is passed, the district would commit about $1.7 million in remaining costs using existing capital improvement funds, Bradbury said.
The bond offer would budget for classroom additions, renovations of existing buildings, a new gym, weight room, vocational/agricultural education, a wood shop building, an eight-lane competition track and parking lot improvements, according to West Franklin’s website. The improvements also would connect the campus buildings.