Ballotpedia identified 37 Missouri school districts that held elections on April 5, where candidates took positions on three contentious issues: race in education, COVID responses, or sex and gender in schools. That’s 7.1% of the state’s 518 school districts, not all of which held elections on April 5.
There were 77 seats to be filled in these 37 constituencies.
Of the 77 winners of the April 5 contention races:
- 19 opposed at least one of these three questions (25%);
- 43 supported at least one and did not oppose it (56%); and,
- 15 had unclear positions on all three issues (20%)
Ballotpedia researched the winning candidates’ positions on these three contentious issues using media reports, editorials, candidate websites, campaign announcements, and more. After that, each winning contestant was tagged either as proof Where opposite. In cases where candidate positions were not obvious, they were labeled not clear.
- Race in Education: candidates proof this question tends to support expanding the use of programs tied to race- and district-specific equity or diversity plans. Candidates opposite this question tend to oppose these efforts.
- Responses to the coronavirus pandemic: candidates proof this issue tends to support or previously supported mask or vaccine requirements and social distancing or remote learning related to the pandemic. Candidates opposite this question tend to oppose those measures that their districts have taken or are considering in response to the pandemic.
- Sex and gender at school: candidates proof this question tends to support the expansion of sex education programs or the use of gender-neutral facilities and learning materials. Candidates opposite this question tend to oppose these efforts.
Ballotpedia previously conducted a study of election results in school board dispute races on November 2, 2021, which included 310 seats up for grabs in 16 other states. In this analysis, 30% of winners (94) had opposing positions, 56% (173) had support positions, and 14% (43) had unclear positions.
A total of 44 incumbents stood for re-election in these 37 constituencies, leaving 33 seats vacant, guaranteed to be won by newcomers and representing 43% of the seats in contention. This is a higher percentage of open seats than Ballotpedia typically tracks among the nation’s largest school districts.
Incumbents running for re-election in those 37 constituencies have lost to challengers at an increased rate compared to regular Ballotpedia coverage.
In the last four election cycles, from 2018 to 2021, incumbents have lost 18% of the races in which they have won re-election.
During the contentious races of April 5, 27% of the incumbents (12) lost their re-election.
Ballotpedia’s coverage of school board disputes relies on identifying candidate posts, reader submissions, or third-party reports on these issues. The map below shows the counties where Missouri’s 37 conflicting races were located.