Historic turnover for Lakota board? Run for trustee could mean changes

Clockwise from top left are Lakota school board members Julie Shaffer, Todd Parnell, Ray Murray, Lynda O’Connor and Ben Dibble. STAFF FILE PHOTOS

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Clockwise from top left are Lakota school board members Julie Shaffer, Todd Parnell, Ray Murray, Lynda O’Connor and Ben Dibble. STAFF FILE PHOTOS

The stakes for the already pivotal Lakota school board race just got bigger with the recent filing of a current board member to run for West Chester Twp. trustee.

The majority of seats on the five-member, governing board for Ohio’s eighth-largest school system are up for election in November.

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If Lakota Board of Education member Lynda O’Connor were to win a township trustee seat in November, the eventual total turnover of the school board could jump to four new members — if two incumbents are not returned to the board by voters.

Should O’Connor win in the trustee race, the school board would then appoint a new member to finish her term, which runs through 2019.

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“This is very unusual,” said school board incumbent Ray Murray.

Current school board President Ben Dibble is not running for re-election, “so this sets up for some very interesting scenarios,” said Murray.

“As it stands now, there is an unprecedented number of school board seats possibly hanging in the balance,” he said.

Under Ohio school law, local board of educations in the state’s 609 public school districts rotate elections every two years with some boards having three seats up for election some years and two seats in other election years.

Almost all of Ohio’s school boards — outside of large city school systems where seven members comprise boards due to larger student enrollments — have five members.

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The boards oversee school district operations, set policies, hire superintendents and treasurers and control millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

In Lakota’s nearly 60-year history, a turnover of four board seats is a rarity and has not happened in the district’s modern era.

Including Murray and fellow school board incumbent Todd Parnell, there is a total of six candidates now competing for three seats on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Parnell said “I guess there is always the possibility of a big turnover, but I don’t think that will happen.”

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Murray and Parnell are joined on the Lakota Board of Education ballot by fellow candidates: Brad Lovell; Jason Baldwin; Kelley Casper and Ernest Gause.

Should O’Connor win the West Chester Twp. trustee seat, the Lakota board would have 30 days after the board election results are certified by Butler County election officials to vote on appointing a new member to fill her seat.

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