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The boards of North East and Southwest independent school districts voted Tuesday to push trustee elections that were initially scheduled for May 2 to Election Day on Nov. 3. Alamo College’s board voted Tuesday night to delay their May election and will send a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott to ask for a non-November election date.
Abbott announced in mid-March that local governmental entities could delay May elections to November in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In San Antonio, North East ISD, Southwest ISD, and Alamo Colleges were scheduled to have trustee elections in May. Southside ISD also planned to have a bond election and City Council added a question to the May ballot for voters to reauthorize funding for Pre-K 4 SA, the City’s taxpayer-supported prekindergarten program.
On March 31, Abbott announced a stay-at-home order that would require Texans to remain at home during April unless engaging in essential services or activities. He also announced public school campuses should close until at least May 4. After Abbott’s order announcement, officials with Texas’ secretary of state told municipalities to delay May elections.
Before the Tuesday vote to delay the election, trustee candidate Cimarron Gilson, who filed to run for NEISD’s District 5 seat against board President Shannon Grona, questioned why trustees waited so long to delay the election, roughly three weeks since Abbott told local governmental entities they could push May elections to November.
Director of Government Relations Deb Caldwell said there was misinformation and lingering questions after Abbott’s mid-March announcement. That’s why it took some time for NEISD staff to bring the election issue to the board, she said.
“Since this has been a very fluid situation with information developing, staff waited to bring you this recommendation to postpone until today,” Caldwell said. “We feel confident we now have the necessary information from the Secretary of State to proceed.”
Candidates who filed in NEISD and Southwest ISD will remain eligible for the Nov. 3 ballot. Those who win full terms will take office following the election and serve until May 2024 in NEISD and May 2023 in SWISD.
Alamo Colleges trustees voted unanimously to delay the May trustee elections. Trustees also voted to send a letter to Abbott, asking to hold the rescheduled election date at a time other than Nov. 3.
Some trustees expressed concerns that placing the trustee contests on the November ballot would make the race seem partisan and that the Alamo Colleges election could get lost on a long ballot.
Trustee Gene Sprague suggested exploring an alternate date in partnership with the school districts delaying their board elections. Putting on an election with school districts could also help defray costs from hosting an election.
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Trustee Yvonne Katz advocated for a late summer or early fall election. Abbott’s order currently only allows for May elections to be moved to November.
Southside ISD board members voted last week to delay a bond election until November.
The Pre-K 4 SA board voted on March 26 to ask City Council to delay its funding reauthorization election. City Council will meet Thursday to vote on the matter and is likely to approve the Pre-K 4 SA’s request.