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Nineteen Dems head to Iowa Sunday

June 7, 2019: Nineteen Democrats are headed to Iowa Sunday to speak at the Democrats Hall of Fame induction event. The Democratic National Committee clarified its polling criteria for the first two debates, moving Bullock from the qualified to unqualified category for now.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Each Friday, we’ll highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.


Faiz Shakir is a long-time Democratic staffer who has worked with leadership figures including Nancy Pelosi (D) and Harry Reid (D).

Previous campaign work:

  • 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign, research team

Other experience:

  • 2017-2019: American Civil Liberties Union, political director
  • 2013-2017: Office of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), senior advisor
  • 2012-2013: Office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), new media director and senior advisor
  • 2005-2012: Center for American Progress, vice president

What he says about Sanders:

“He pushes the Democratic Party. He pushes it to be better…He has no concerns about raising issues on trade where he thinks the party has not fought aggressively enough. He has fought on economic justice issues, trying to raise the fact that billionaires control a lot of pieces not only of the Democratic Party but of the Republican Party.”

Notable Quote of the Day

“Among Democrats 65 or older, only 13 percent wanted the candidate they agreed with if the candidate would have a hard time beating Trump. But among Democrats younger than 50, 42 percent were willing to take a chance on the less electable candidate.

The cause and effect is difficult to sort out. Maybe younger voters deemphasize electability because they’re more liberal and think the concept is being used to prop up more moderate, establishment friendly candidates like Biden.

But it’s at least possible that some of the causality runs the other way: Younger voters are more liberal because their lived experience gives them less reason to think there’s an electoral penalty for liberalism.”

– Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight founder


  • Michael Bennet hired Brian Peters to run his Iowa state campaign. Peters has worked on campaigns in Indiana, Michigan, and Arkansas.
  • Reversing course from earlier this week, Joe Biden said he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment Thursday night, citing women’s decreased access to abortion.
  • Bill de Blasio will campaign in Iowa over the weekend, including stops in Hiawatha, Ames, and Waterloo.
  • Cory Booker will campaign in Iowa over the weekend, marking his fifth trip to the state. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will also travel to the state June 11 to campaign for Booker.
  • The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that candidates could not use two ABC News/Washington Post polls with an open-ended question to qualify for the debate. Without that poll, Steve Bullock now has only two of three necessary polls to qualify for the debate.
  • Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and thirteen other Democratic candidates will make brief pitches at the Democrats Hall of Fame induction event in Iowa Sunday.
  • Julián Castro will visit Flint, Michigan, on Saturday. He previously visited the city while serving as the secretary of housing and urban development in 2016.
  • In an op-ed in The Washington Post, John Delaney called Medicare for All “political suicide for Democrats.”
  • Tulsi Gabbard is campaigning in New York over the weekend.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted that she was 5,000 donors away from crossing the fundraising threshold to secure her spot on the debate stage later this month. She has already met the polling requirements.
  • New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno and state Rep. Ted James will serve as co-chairs of Kamala HarrisLouisiana state campaign.
  • John Hickenlooper spoke against socialism in an interview on The Michael Smerconish Program.
  • Jay Inslee will join Iowa state Sen. Rob Hogg for a conversation on climate change Saturday.
  • Amy Klobuchar will campaign in Iowa Sunday and New Hampshire Monday.
  • Wayne Messam said FEC rules on leftover campaign funds favored members of Congress over local officials. “It shows how the system because it’s actually stacked to favor Washingtonians who have federal laws and the ability to transfer their other congressional accounts to a presidential campaign,” he said.
  • Eric Swalwell will campaign in New Hampshire Saturday, including a New Hampshire Senate Democratic Caucus “End of Session Reception” and meet and greets.
  • Marianne Williamson moved to Des Moines, Iowa. “It’s been about showing her commitment to the Iowa caucuses,” her state director, Brent Roske said. “The Iowa caucuses are one of the last bastions of personal democracy. She agrees with that. We want to support the caucuses.”


  • The pro-Donald Trump Great America PAC and the Committee to Defend the President PAC announced they are working together to register one million new voters. The first phase of the project will target an initial spend of more than $1 million, both nationally and in the key battleground states of Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. The second phase of the project will expand to Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, and New Hampshire, including national bus tours,” they said in a statement.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: June 7, 2015

Rick Santorum argued against Fox News limiting the number of spots in its August 2015 debate to the 10 top-polling candidates. He said in an interview, “Is that what campaigns should be about, measuring whether we meet some criteria in a debate?”

DNC declines to hold climate change debate

June 6, 2019: The Democratic National Committee announced it will not hold a climate change debate. Jay Inslee released another climate change proposal, this one focused on global leadership.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Poll Spotlight

Notable Quote of the Day

“That’s why [the Democratic] field is likely to be much smaller by Halloween or Thanksgiving: Once a candidate misses qualifying for a debate or two, they are ignored and their candidacies just wither and die on the vine. This is a cold and cruel process; there are going to be very bright and talented people, some of them arguably highly qualified to be president, who simply aren’t going to get more than a passing glance by Democratic voters. As President Kennedy once said, ‘Life is unfair.’”

– Charlie Cook, political analyst


  • The Democratic National Committee announced that it would not hold a primary debate dedicated exclusively to climate change. “While climate change is at the top of our list, the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters,” the group said in a statement.
  • In an interview on PBS NewsHour, Michael Bennet said that Biden did not represent the future of the party and that Americans in the middle of the country did not understand the party’s principles. “I don’t think the base of the Democratic Party is anywhere near where the Twitter base of the Democratic Party is,” he said.
  • The Joe Biden campaign said the former vice president supports the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding of abortions.
  • Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg are speaking at the African-American Leadership Council Summit in Atlanta Thursday. Biden and Beto O’Rourke are also attending a party fundraiser in Georgia. During the trip, Buttigieg and O’Rourke are scheduled to meet with Stacey Abrams.
  • In an interview on MSNBC, Steve Bullock said that he would require political non-profits and super PACs to certify that no foreign contributions will be used in U.S. elections.
  • In a Fox News interview, John Delaney discussed his conflict with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Medicare for All. “Intolerance to different ideas is part of the problem. And that is something I think that is getting very dangerous and concerning in the Democratic Party right now,” he said.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand called for the decriminalization of marijuana use and taxation of nonprescription marijuana products. These funds would be used to offer small business programs and job training in communities disproportionately affected by marijuana laws.
  • The New York Times profiled Mike Gravel’s Twitter-driven presidential run. Campaign manager Henry Williams said, “Trump was the first postmodern politician. I like to think Gravel is the second.”
  • Kamala Harris will expand her Iowa campaign, pledging to increase the staff count to 65 staffers. Her campaign is also developing a program called “Kamala Captains” for precinct-level leaders.
  • Jay Inslee released a proposal for how he says the United States can lead on global climate change issues. He called for rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, raising the ceiling for refugee admissions, adjusting trade policies to support carbon-free outcomes, and prohibiting the financing of fossil fuel projects.
  • Amy Klobuchar will campaign in Duluth, touring redeveloped waterfront communities in the Minnesota Slip.
  • Seth Moulton said he would seek to retroactively upgrade dishonorable discharges to honorable for people dismissed on the basis of their sexual orientation.
  • Tim Ryan announced Peter Mellinger would act as his New Hampshire state director. Mellinger was Hillary Clinton’s organizing director in the state in 2016.
  • Bernie Sanders is on the cover of the latest TIME Magazine with a piece on his second presidential bid.
  • Elizabeth Warren’s staff became the fourth presidential campaign to unionize. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320 will represent the campaign workers.
  • During a town hall on MSNBC Wednesday night, Warren discussed the Hyde Amendment and impeachment.
  • Andrew Yang will appear on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday.


  • Reuters reported on Republican efforts to boost Donald Trump’s re-election campaign in Ohio, including developing a central database for voter information collected by volunteers.
  • Bill Weld said he supported impeachment proceedings against Trump. “I won’t say past time. But it’s time for the House Judiciary Committee, not the whole House to launch an inquiry, not take a vote but an inquiry into impeachment of this president,” Weld said.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: June 6, 2015

Seven Republicans spoke at the inaugural Roast and Ride in Iowa, an event hosted by Sen. Joni Ernst. Scott Walker joined Ernst in riding a motorcycle at the event.

The Daily Brew: Your donation to Ballotpedia today will be matched!

Welcome to the Friday, June 7, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. There’s a special reason to contribute on the final day of our membership drive
  2. Louisiana to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2020
  3. Dallas, San Antonio mayoral runoffs headline Saturday Texas elections

There’s a special reason to become a Ballotpedia supporter today!

Today is the last day of the Ballotpedia Society membership drive! We sincerely appreciate everyone who has already signed up to support Ballotpedia with a monthly membership.

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Louisiana to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2020

The Louisiana legislature approved a bill last month designed to ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is present, except in certain medical emergencies. The measure had bipartisan support, as seven Democrats joined all 24 Republicans to pass the bill in the state Senate and 17 Democrats and 59 Republicans voted in favor in the state House. It was signed into law by the state’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards.

Next year, voters will decide a state constitutional amendment stating “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

The state Senate approved the amendment 33-5. All 25 Senate Republicans and eight Senate Democrats voting in favor of the amendment. Five Democrats voting against it. The state House approved the measure 78-21 with 59 Republicans, 16 Democrats, and three Independents voting in favor and 20 Democrats and one Independent opposed. A two-thirds vote is required in both chambers to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot.

According to the Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition, which is campaigning in support of the ballot measure, the constitutional amendment would preclude a state court from ruling that the Louisiana Constitution provides a right to abortion.

Alabama and West Virginia voters approved ballot measures in 2018 declaring their state constitutions did not secure or protect a right to abortion. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a bill into law May 15 prohibiting all abortions in the state except those necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the woman. A West Virginia law in existence since 1882 that includes jail time for performing or receiving an abortion has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

Learn more

Dallas, San Antonio mayoral runoffs headline June 8 Texas elections

We’re in a busy election period, with statewide elections in New Jersey on June 4 and Virginia’s state legislative primaries June 11. And as a bonus, there are even more elections across Texas on Saturday.

Two cities that are among the 10 largest in the country—Dallas and San Antonio—are holding runoff elections for mayor. Dallas’ runoff is an open-seat race while San Antonio’s incumbent mayor is seeking re-election.

In Dallas, the race is between state Rep. Eric Johnson and city councilmember Scott Griggs, who were the top two finishers among nine candidates in the May 4 general election. Johnson won 20.3% of the vote and Griggs 18.5%. Johnson has served in the state House since 2010 and Griggs was first elected to the Dallas City Council in 2011.

San Antonio’s mayoral runoff election features incumbent Ron Nirenberg and City Councilmember Greg Brockhouse. Nirenberg—who defeated incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor in 2017—finished first in the May 4 general election with 48.7% of the vote. Brockhouse—who was first elected to the city council in 2017—finished second in the general with 45.5%.

We’re also covering runoff elections in Texas on June 8 for one seat on the Arlington City Council, two seats on the Plano City Council, and one seat on the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees.

Click here for more information on Dallas’ mayoral race    

Click here for more information on San Antonio’s mayoral race

Eleven applicants for Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice position

Chief Justice Scott Bales of the Arizona Supreme Court will retire on July 31, 2019. Eleven applicants have applied for the position and will be interviewed by a 14-member selection commission. The commission will then submit a list of names to Gov. Doug Ducey (R), from which he will appoint a new chief justice.
Seven Republicans, two Democrats, one Libertarian, and one independent applied to fill the vacancy. The list of applicants includes five judges from the Arizona Court of Appeals, two judges from county superior courts, a public defender, a county attorney, and two private attorneys.
Three of the applicants for this position made the final shortlist for the most recent vacancy on the court. Judges Kent Cattani (R), Maria Elena Cruz (D), and Richard Gordon (R) were recommended by the committee to replace former Justice John Pelander in March 2019.
Bales is the only member of the court to be appointed by a Democratic governor. His replacement will be Ducey’s fifth appointment to the seven-member court. After leaving office, Bales will become executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver.
In 2019, there have been 13 supreme court vacancies across eight of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Nine of the vacancies were caused by retirements. Two former justices took jobs in the private sector. One vacancy occurred when a justice was elevated to chief justice of the court and the other occurred when a justice was elevated to a federal judicial position. Of these vacancies, a Republican is responsible for appointing the replacement in 11 of them, and a Democrat is responsible for appointing the replacement in two of them.

Judge delays action on new citizenship question challenge until after SCOTUS ruling

Judge Jesse Furman of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on June 5, 2019, declined to amend the record in Department of Commerce v. New York to bring new evidence alleging contradictory testimony by Trump administration officials before the United States Supreme Court as the court considers the case.
Attorneys for plaintiffs in the case sent a letter to Furman on May 30, 2019, to highlight new evidence retrieved from the hard drive of a deceased Republican political consultant allegedly demonstrating that the Trump administration approved the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census in order to gain a Republican electoral advantage. The letter called for Furman to consider issuing sanctions or penalties in response to what the plaintiffs consider to be the misleading testimony of administration officials, who argued that the administration added the citizenship question to the census in order to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
Though Furman described the allegations as serious, he stated that he no longer had jurisdiction over the case and did not want to act in a manner that would appear as though he were attempting to influence the United States Supreme Court justices. He also observed that the United States Supreme Court’s decision could potentially help resolve the new claims.
Furman stated that he would not rule on the merits of sanctions against Trump administration officials until the United States Supreme Court issued its decision, which is expected by the end of June. Instead, he set dates in July and August for the submission of written arguments.

Texas governor to extend plumbing oversight through executive authority

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced via Twitter on Tuesday that the governor’s office had the authority to continue the existence of the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners for two years without the need for a special legislative session.
Some groups of Texas plumbers asked Abbott to call a special legislative session to address plumbing oversight after the Texas State Legislature failed to approve sunset review legislation last month that would have continued regulatory oversight of plumbers in the state. Lawmakers disagreed over the sunset bill’s proposal to move the responsibilities of the plumbing board under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Supporters of the bill argued that the move would improve efficiency, such as reducing the state’s eight-month processing period for issuing a plumbing license. Opponents claimed that the lengthy licensing period and other alleged inefficiencies of the plumbing board served to protect public health and safety in a specialized industry.
Without Abbott’s extension, the legislative inaction would result in the expiration of the state’s plumbing code on September 1, 2019, and the end of plumbing board operations by September 2020. Abbott’s announcement did not specify how he would extend the life of plumbing regulation in the state.

The Daily Brew: How district maps shape the way governments run elections

Welcome to the Thursday, June 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. How data technology is used in voting
  2. Denver mayor wins re-election in Tuesday’s runoff
  3. Quiz: Which state constitution has been amended more than 800 times?

How data technology is used in voting

Have you ever wondered how your local elections precinct knows which ballot to give you on election day? I never knew the technology behind it until I started working at Ballotpedia.

Earlier this year, Virginia adopted legislation that requires municipal clerks to transmit Geographic Information System (GIS) maps to local election boards and the state when they alter local electoral districts or precincts. GIS is a way of capturing, managing, and storing spatial or geographic data. It’s currently used in everything from mapping to scientific analysis to navigation.

At Ballotpedia, we’re gathering GIS information nationwide to improve our sample ballot tool. I spoke with Margaret Koenig, one of our database specialists, about this measure and how she thinks it will affect this information’s availability.

“This type of legislation is a step forward for increased education and analysis around local politics. It is an opportunity for increased precision in local election practices as well as for observers like Ballotpedia to provide highly specific and accurate voter information. My hope is that Virginia and other states will see the value in making this information readily and freely available online for the good of all citizens. It will be fascinating to watch their process and standards for this work develop.”

When voters use our sample ballot tool, we want them to see the most precise and accurate information as possible. We’re committed to placing each address correctly inside their respective districts using GIS data so we can offer a comprehensive sample ballot for everyone in the country.

Including that Virginia legislation, Ballotpedia has tracked 352 state-level bills regarding redistricting and electoral systems policy in state legislatures this year. Twenty-eight of these measures have become law. Here are some other highlights:

  • The Mississippi legislature revised the boundaries of two state Senate districts after a federal court ruled that one of them constituted an illegal racial gerrymander.
  • Colorado, Delaware, and New Mexico all enacted legislation entering their respective states into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). As I’ve discussed previously, the NPVIC is an interstate agreement to award each member state’s presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote.
  • Utah amended provisions of a pilot project that allows municipalities to conduct municipal elections using ranked-choice voting.

Learn more about stories like this in our Ballot Bulletin, our free newsletter which tracks developments in election policy. Our June issue just came out yesterday.

June’s issue of Ballot Bulletin also discusses the status of the Michigan and Ohio redistricting cases at the Supreme Court in addition to redistricting legislation in Nevada and Washington that adjusts the census data in those states to reflect where prison inmates are counted.

Click here to read this month’s edition.

Denver mayor wins re-election in Tuesday’s runoff

Yesterday’s Brew included the results from New Jersey’s primary elections for the state Assembly. Here are results from other Tuesday elections in Colorado and California that were decided later that evening:


Denver Mayor Michael Hancock defeated development consultant Jamie Giellis to win a third and final term (Denver mayors face term limits of three terms). Giellis and Hancock were the top two finishers among a six-candidate field in the May 7 general election. Hancock received 55.8% of the vote to Giellis’ 44.2%.

Hancock was first elected in 2011 after having served seven years on the city council. A prominent issue during the campaign was the city’s response to population growth and development. Although the election was officially nonpartisan, both Hancock and Giellis are members of the Democratic Party.

Denver voters also approved Initiated Ordinance 302, which prohibits the city and county from using public funds in connection with future Olympic Games unless a majority of voters approve such funds. The measure was proposed during the city’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. Unofficial results show the initiative was approved by 79 percent of city voters.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles Unified School District voters defeated Measure EE, which would have enacted an annual parcel tax—a kind of property tax based on units of property rather than assessed value—for 12 years to fund educational improvements, instruction, and programs. According to election night results, 54% of voters were against the measure and 46% were in favor. It required a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass.

In 2019, local California voters have approved ten parcel tax measures and defeated three. Since 1983, there have been 708 local parcel tax measures on ballots in California—425 (60%) were approved, and 283 (40%) were defeated.

In another Los Angeles race, John Lee and Loraine Lundquist advanced from a 15-candidate field in the special primary election to fill a vacancy on the Los Angeles City Council. Lee and Lundquist will oppose each other in the general election August 13. Lee was endorsed by a PAC sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Lundquist was endorsed by The Los Angeles Times and the Green Party of Los Angeles County.

Learn more

Quiz: Which state constitution has been amended more than 800 times?

In a story from earlier this week, I noted that one particular state constitution had been amended more than 800 times. This state’s constitution is considered the longest constitution in the world.

Name that state:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. California

Judge and state senator file to run in Kentucky Supreme Court special election

Two candidates filed to run in the November 5 nonpartisan special election for one of the seven seats on the Kentucky Supreme Court. Christopher Nickell, a judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals, and Whitney Westerfield, a Republican member of the Kentucky State Senate, are competing in the general election. The filing deadline was June 4.
The special election will fill the 1st District seat, which was previously held by Bill Cunningham. He resigned from the court on January 31. His term was set to expire in January 2023. A full term on the court is eight years. Cunningham was first elected to the court in 2006 and re-elected in 2014.

Wichita’s mayor faces eight challengers in re-election bid

Nine mayoral candidates and eight city council candidates have filed to run in the 2019 elections in Wichita, Kansas. A primary for the mayoral race is scheduled for August 6. The general election is on November 5. The filing deadline was June 3.
Wichita’s current mayor, Jeff Longwell, filed for re-election. He is facing eight challengers, including state Rep. Brandon Whipple (D), in the primary. Longwell became mayor in 2015 after serving on the Wichita City Council from 2007 to 2015. He was elected in 2015 with 60% percent of the vote.
Three of the six seats on the city council—Districts 2, 4, and 5—are also on the ballot in 2019. The primaries for the three races were canceled due to an insufficient number of filed candidates. A primary is held only if four or more candidates file in a certain district. The races are on the November 5 ballot. District 2 incumbent Becky Tuttle is running for re-election against former state Rep. Joseph Scapa and Rodney Wren. District 4 incumbent Jeff Blubaugh is facing Beckie Jenek and Christopher Parisho in the general election, and District 5 incumbent Bryan Frye is competing against challenger Mike Magness.
The mayor and city council members each serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms (eight years) in office.
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the 48th-largest city in the U.S. by population. In 2019, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 59 of America’s 100 largest cities by population. In addition to the cities, Ballotpedia is also covering elections in 23 counties across 11 states.

Kansas school boards cancel primaries in four of five districts covered by Ballotpedia in 2019

Ballotpedia is covering elections in five Kansas school districts in 2019: Circle USD 375, Goddard USD 265, Haysville USD 261, Maize USD 266, and Wichita Public Schools. The filing deadline for these elections was June 3, 2019. Four districts canceled their primaries after two or fewer candidates filed per seat up for election. Wichita Public Schools is scheduled to hold a primary on August 6 for one seat. All districts will hold general elections on November 5.
Three of seven seats are up for election in Wichita Public Schools; these consist of two by-district seats and one at-large seat. The district holds primaries if three or more candidates file per seat. The by-district seats do not require a primary, but four candidates filed for the at-large seat. All three incumbents filed for re-election. The District 3 incumbent is the only Wichita school board member who is unopposed in her bid for re-election.
Four of seven seats are up for election in Circle USD 375; these consist of three by-district seats and one at-large seat. Two incumbents filed for re-election. Each of the races only drew one candidate, so two newcomers will be sworn in following the election.
Goddard USD 265 has four of seven at-large seats up for election. Five candidates filed for election, including three incumbents. This means the district is guaranteed at least one newcomer on the board.
Five of seven at-large seats are up for election in Haysville USD 261; four are up for regular election and one is for an unexpired term. A total of seven candidates filed for the four seats up for regular election and one candidate is running for the unexpired term. Three incumbents filed for re-election, meaning the board will see a minimum of two newcomers.
Maize USD 266 has three by-district seats and one at-large seat up for election. There are seven seats on the board. Three incumbents filed for re-election. Two incumbents face challengers, but the at-large incumbent is unopposed in his bid for re-election. The open by-district seat drew two candidates. At least one newcomer will be elected to the board.
These five Kansas school districts served a combined total of 71,240 students during the 2016-2017 school year.