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Politics

Ohio Has A Lot More School Board Candidates This Year

Wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, elementary school students line up to enter school for the first day of classes in Richardson, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.
LM Otero
/
AP
Wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, elementary school students line up to enter school for the first day of classes in Richardson, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

Local school board candidates usually don’t get much attention, even though they’re elected in what are considered to be “off year” elections. But that may be different this year, as there are more people running for school boards this year than in the recent past.

The Ohio School Boards Association reports more than 2,600 candidates are running for school boards this year – a 50% increase from school board races four years ago. Many of the candidates are running for the first time, the organization’s Jeff Chambers said

“This year, we have 1,287 people running for the first time. In 2019, we had 807,” he said.

The organization has been working to recruit new school board members.

But while those races are nonpartisan, school board meetings have become ground zero for culture wars. Heated debates have taken place over wearing masks, vaccine mandates or how to address racial diversity and teaching, with Republican candidates in particular aggressively targeting those issues.

Nationwide, some candidates and board members have felt so threatened and attacked that they’ve quit.