PHOTO/DAVID ROBERT: Trustee Jeff Church at a recent school board meeting.

When I covered a Colorado school district as a cub reporter, board meetings were a natural alternative to sleeping pills. And school board elections, tucked away at the bottom of the ballot, garnered little interest among voters.

But if you’ve haven’t paid much attention to a school board election before, this is the year to start.

In Washoe County, a slate of critics of the school district is challenging three incumbents. In addition to traditional issues like test scores, staffing shortages and budgets, those contests have become skirmishes in the nation’s culture wars.

The challengers are frustrated and angry, echoing a small but vocal group of protestors who often attend board meetings. They decry what they see as the “liberal indoctrination” of students by an alleged far-left cabal. Their rallying cry is “take back our schools.” They have declared war on district policies that address equity, diversity and inclusion. They worry about transgender kids using bathrooms. They fret that talking about systemic racism may make white kids feel guilty.

The challengers are allied with trustee Jeff Church, who shares many of their views.

You may agree with those folks. Or not. But be aware of the massive sea change that will roil the board—and the schools—if those challengers win board seats. Voters must understand each candidate’s position in order to make an informed choice. 

School-board trustees work long hours and deal with complex matters while being paid just more than $700 a month. Many candidates want to serve because they have a passion for public service (while some also see it as a stepping stone to higher office). It’s hard work; it’s a serious job for serious people. On Nov. 8, you will decide who those folks will be.

If you’ve never paid much attention to a school-board election, it’s time to start.

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