INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Republicans forged ahead Wednesday with a proposal that would upend the current nonpartisan school board elections across the state despite opponents of the change arguing it would further inject politics into local schools.
The Indiana House elections committee voted 6-4 along party lines to endorse a bill to establish a system allowing each of the state’s nearly 300 school boards to decide whether to require candidates to declare a political party or a voter referendum making that decision. Candidates could be required to win a party’s May primary in order to advance to the November general election ballot.
Bill supporters said they believed having candidates identified by political party would give voters more information to consider and increase transparency in what are already often politicized election races.
Some opponents argued allowing a district-by-district decision would lead to a confusing patchwork across the state and confuse voters.
A state Senate committee has not yet voted on a different proposal that would require school board candidates to identify themselves on the ballot by political party or as an independent but not have them run in party primaries.