FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 2, 2018
CONTACT: ATNRE ALLEYNE, (302) 497-3226
Wilmington, Del. – During school board elections on May 8, Delaware communities will choose the Delawareans who will govern their schools—but staggeringly few people vote each year.
In 2017, just 220 votes were cast in Woodbridge, according to an interactive map for tracking Delaware school board election trends. The map was published online today by DelawareCAN: The Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now, as part of its get-out-the-vote campaign, “Who Runs Our Schools?”
“We can’t let 1 percent of the voting public decide the governing bodies each year for schools that educate more than 140,000 kids across Delaware,” said Atnre Alleyne, founding executive director of the education advocacy nonprofit. “We should all be invested in the results of these elections and the quality of leaders on our school boards.The quality of public education becomes the quality of our local communities and our state’s economy.”
He added: “Almost half a million people turned out for presidential elections. We’d like to see similar emphasis placed on local elections that impact our students.”
Alleyne hopes that using the map to visualize the numbers–or lack thereof–will inspire people to fill in the gaps. There are plenty, he said: of Delaware’s more than 685,000 voting-age residents, an average of 10,400 voted each year from 2013-2017 in contested races. During that five-year span the map represents, voter turnout has been lowest in Colonial, Smyrna and Milford school districts, whereas Brandywine, Cape Henlopen and Christina voters are most active.
Since 2013, Cape Henlopen has drawn the highest turnout for any single school board election, recording 4,778 ballots in 2015. The district has also generated the highest total number of votes since 2013, with an upward trend around civic engagement. In 2017, Christina saw a major uptick in votership, as well, more than tripling its turnout of 837 voters from the year before to 2,608.
Meanwhile, Brandywine boasts the second-highest total number of school board votes since 2013, but it’s engagement is trending down. In five years, turnout has plummeted from 3,215 to just 734 voters.
Although there are 18 polling locations in the Christina School District, 25 percent of the votes were cast at the Downes Elementary location in Newark in 2017. This is more than the combined total of votes cast at polling locations in the city of Wilmington.
“The numbers themselves don’t have the answers, but they raise essential questions about when and why Delaware voters get involved,” Alleyne said. “Low turnout is a symptom of an overall disconnect, and I don’t think it’s the result of apathy–it’s actually the result of too little information about school board elections, candidates and responsibilities once members take office.”
Last month, DelawareCAN launched the “Who Runs Our Schools?” campaign to remove barriers to that information.
This year’s candidates range from young adults to veteran school board leaders, business executives, engaged parents, former students and district employees. Learn more about the candidates and the election at WhoRunsOurSchools.com.