Six candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election for three seats on the Wichita Public Schools school board in Kansas on November 7, 2023.
Wichita Public Schools (WPS) is the largest school district in Kansas by enrollment, with 46,657 students during the 2021-2022 school year. The school board consists of seven members elected to four-year terms. Six board members are elected by district, and one is elected at large. Members are elected on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years.
While school board elections are nonpartisan, a slate endorsed by the Sedgwick Republican Party won three of the four seats up for election in 2021. According to The Wichita Eagle’s Mathew Kelly, the results of this year’s election could decide the ideological majority on the seven-member board.
District 3, District 4, and the At-Large District are up for election. School safety, behavioral issues, and community engagement are among the issues that have come up during the campaign.
Ngoc Vuong and Ken Carpenter are running in District 3:
- Vuong is a community psychology doctoral student. In his Candidate Connection responses, Vuong listed “ensur[ing] student success and school discipline, improv[ing] family and community engagement, and strengthen[ing] and protect[ing] our public schools” as key issues.
- Carpenter listed test scores, parental rights, and behavioral problems in schools as his top issues.
Incumbent Stan Reeser and Jason Carmichael are running in District 4:
- Reeser has served on the board since 2017 and was a member of the Wichita City Council from 1991 to 1995. Reeser said he was running “to fight to keep our teachers, improve student behavior issues, and improving transparency on behalf of our students, their families, and our staff.”
- Carmichael, a veteran and residential property manager, said increasing police presence at schools, “teaching how to read and stopping social promotion until the standard of reading is met, … and [r]eversing the plague of absenteeism by making more schools magnet schools” were among his priorities.
Melody McCray-Miller and Brent Davis are running in the at-large district.
- McCray-Miller served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2005 to 2013 and as Sedgwick County commissioner. She said her vision was “to create a leading school district in Kansas, where board-level accountability ensures consistent standards across all schools, and an action-plan that improves student and teacher achievement, behavior, and building performance.”
- Davis leads an educational services business. He said his four goals to improve the district were to “raise all students to grade level or above, …protect Students, …elevate Excellent Educators,” and have “greater local choice, communication and clarity.”
The United Teachers of Wichita, a teacher’s union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, endorsed Vuong (District 4), Reeser (District 6), and McCray Miller (At-Large). According to The Wichita Eagle’s Kelly, Vuong and Reeser are Democrats, while McCray-Miller served as a Democratic member of the Kansas House.
Kansans for Life, an organization that opposes abortion, endorsed Carpenter (District 4), Carmichael (District 6), and Davis (At-Large). Davis ran as part of the Republican-endorsed slate in 2021.