Elected PE School Board Petition Nears Deadline

Published 12:03 pm Thursday, June 25, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — Voters may get to decide whether Prince Edward has an elected school board.

“We’re cutting it close to the deadline,” conceded Kelly Morgan, who has spearheaded a petition drive to get the question on the November ballot, “and, hopefully, we’ll make it.”

Petitioners, who got a late start on their effort, face a July 15 deadline to secure roughly 1,400 signatures. To date, Morgan said, they have about 1,150.

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Prince Edward is one of the few counties remaining in Virginia where the board of supervisors directly appoints school board members. Buckingham and Cumberland are among the many that have chosen to elect their school board members.

Referendum seekers are required to have signatures from 10 percent of the number of registered voters as of Jan. 1 in the year they seek to have an issue placed on the ballot. While the numbers are close, there are specific guidelines for the names to count — they must be a registered voter in Prince Edward, for example, and those with post office addresses listed on the form don’t count when they are checked. Often, candidates petitioning to be on the ballot, as well as those seeking referendums, go above the required number to ensure they have enough signatures, given that there is usually a portion that don’t count.

Petitions are due 111 days prior to the general election, which sets the deadline at 5 p.m. July 15.

There’s a handful of folks helping, Morgan said, and they “are trying really hard.” The drive has “mostly” grown from a parent group that has banded together to support the County’s schools and to discuss issues of concern and solutions. Most of the signatures were gathered standing outside of the post office or Department of Motor Vehicles office.

The idea got life during the county’s budget discussion in the spring, as County supervisors discussed deep cuts in school funding and tension developed between the school and county boards.

“I think, mostly … the school board has kind of given up … and they do as little as possible and maybe, if they’re held accountable to voters instead of to the board of supervisors, it’ll fix it,” Morgan said.

She plans to “get out in the heat and grab everybody I can that hasn’t signed yet, get ’em to sign it.”

Morgan, who lives in the Prospect area, has three children in the school system, ages 13, 9 and 7.