BoE candidate puts board on spot with question about lawsuit

he Nov. 7 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education was a time for the board to hear from the seven candidates vying for the appointment to fill the vacant Post 5 seat. But perhaps as interesting as the presentations from the applicants was a question by one about the board’s opinion on the possible end of countywide voting for the school board.

The candidates at the end of their presentations were given the opportunity to ask questions of the board. The questions usually centered on issues such as the board’s expectations of the candidates, with those questions receiving a response from one or more board members.

But one of the candidates, Dr. Richard Coulson, asked a question that is based on the current lawsuit brought by the Fayette County Branch of the NAACP over what it believes should be district voting as opposed to Fayette’s practice of countywide voting for members of the Fayette County Board of Education and the Fayette County Commission.

Coulson asked board members how they felt about possibly having seen the last countywide election.

That question received a response from Janet Smola and Bob Todd.

Smola responded first, saying the school board should be non-partisan and focused on all schools and all children. When a district is divided there can be a sense of “my district” with board members, Smola said, adding that she did not see voting by districts as a threat.

“From a practical standpoint, districting could serve well when serving all the children,” said Smola.

Todd also responded, saying the impact of district voting depends on the school board and noting that both countywide and district voting can work.

“Either way, (the school board) feels equally responsible for every child in the county,” Todd said. “We’re all here to collectively view the system as a whole.”