Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

East St. Louis School Board Race Draws 12 Candidates for 4 Seats

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

East St. Louis School Board Race Draws 12 Candidates for 4 Seats

Article excerpt

Classrooms without teachers, lunchrooms without hot lunches, locked libraries, fires and floods - those are just some of the problems East St. Louis School District 189 has endured since the last School Board election.

On Tuesday, voters decide who should return and who should be elected anew to the board. Four of the seven seats are open, and despite all the problems, 12 people have filed to fill the seats.

Voters in East St. Louis and parts of Washington Park, Fairmont City, Alorton, Centreville, Fairview Heights and some nearby unincorporated areas cast ballots in the race.

Frederic Boyd, a retired principal who has been a force on the board for 23 years, is seeking re-election. Chairman of the East St. Louis Democratic Central Committee, Boyd and his political backers have thrown their support behind four candidates.

Boyd's slate includes himself; Frankie Seaberry, an alderman in Centreville who headed District 189's music department for years; and Kinnis Williams, a parent active in parent-teacher organizations who lobbied for better conditions last year. The slate also backs James Ross, a St. Clair County deputy sheriff and driver for Bi-State Development Agency, to fill an unexpired two-year term. They call their slate "Candidates Who Will Work For a Better Tomorrow For Our Community."

Other political heavyweights in the Metro East area - including East St. Louis Mayor Gordon Bush - have split with Boyd.

Bush and his allies back a slate under the banner "For the Kids." It is composed of incumbent LaVondia M. Neely, a former first vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and former educator; Robert B. Moore, city administrator of Washington Park; and Seaberry. "For the Kids" backs Guy Gettis, a contractor and community activist, for the two-year seat.

Several other candidates, some with experience in education and community service, are running on their own. They are Ohala Ward, a program manager for the city's Community Development Office; Clayborne Garvin, owner of a maintenance company who has grandchildren in the schools; Verdia Edwards, a secretary with Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.; Sheryl Clayton, a retired school librarian and teacher; and Karron Waters of East St. Louis.

Some might wonder why anyone would want to be a School Board member in East St. Louis School District 189. The job draws no salary and few expense payments. Under attack by the American Civil Liberties Union, Teachers Local 1220 and a host of critics inside and outside the district, School Board members also have lost most of their clout.

For some, the position of School Board member traditionally has been a source of political strength because board members can control jobs. But the board was stripped of much of its authority last year, when the state appointed a Financial Oversight Panel to have the final say in all fiscal decisions.

The panel has taken control of the district's purse strings and final hiring decisions. …

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