As per law, board votes to hold joint election next year

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

BEN BOLT - Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco School Board Trustees approved an action item on Tuesday for future contracting with the Jim Wells County Elections Administrator for all board elections.

This occurred after superintendent Dr. Grace Everett reviewed some of the information concerning the upcoming board election, provided by Elections Administrator Pearlie Jo Valadez.

Because of new state mandates, school boards across the state have had to consolidate their election timetables.

In the past, most school boards held elections on some variation of the "2-2-3 cycle," which means two members are elected, then another two members are up during the next election, followed by the remaining three members the following year.

The new mandates call for election to be held in a "3-4 timetable," and for school districts to utilize the election opportunities available from neighboring municipalities or counties.

Since Ben Bolt does not have a governing municipal government, they agreed to contract with Jim Wells County for their elections. The state's intent is to lower the cost of elections for school districts by having fewer elections and by sharing costs through consolidated elections.

As part of the move from a "2-2-3 election cycle" to a "3-4 election cycle," board members previously approved a one-year extension for Trustees Rolando Ramirez and Noe Cadena, who were both originally scheduled to be up for re-election this fall. They will now be up for re-election in 2008 along with Trustees Daniel Bueno and Higinio Garcia.

The school board election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, with early voting to take place at the Ben Bolt Middle School Bus Barn, which has ample parking space and handicap access. On the day of the election, there will be an E-Slate and E-Scan machine at each polling location.

As part of Valadez's contract with the school district, her office will supply election judges, alternates and clerks. They will also manage the handling of ballots, from the time they arrive from the printer, to the actual counting of the ballots. Both the local races and the federal presidential election will be on the same ballot.

"We're fortunate to have someone there in place who knows what's going on," board member Gracy Garcia said before the vote to approve took place.

School district officials said the cost of the election, including early voting, payments for judges and clerks, ballots and machines, would be close to $5,000. Paperwork, including a copy of the approved resolution, will be sent to the state this week, Everett said, in order to give them proper notification of the district's compliance.