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Partisan school board referendum off the table

Commissioners change their minds to make the school board partisan

COLUMBUS—After coming to a consensus last month to move forward with holding a referendum to make the Polk County School Board partisan, commissioners have since changed their minds. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and decided to take the referendum off the table. 

Instead, commissioners said they want to work with the board of education on a non-partisan approach to provide more information about candidates for the school board election. 

Commissioners said they and the school board have historically worked together to place the needs of students and schools first, which is one reason Polk County Schools is consistently ranked as one of the top public school systems in the state. 

Commissioners said Monday that a move to a partisan election for the school board would make it extremely difficult for registered Unaffiliated voters to run for a seat. 

Commissioners voted to take the agenda item off Monday to call for a referendum to let the voters decide next year whether or not the school board should be partisan. 

Instead, commissioners said they want to expand their relationship by developing candidate public forums for the 2022 election. Next year, there will be 4 school board seats up for re-election. The boards plan to work with a local non-partisan group to oversee the candidate forums and plan to ask former Polk County Schools Superintendent Bill Miller to help lead the effort.