Incumbents on the Blue Valley Board of Education kept their seats, and one newcomer on their informal slate called “The A+ Team” will join them.
All four members of “The A+ Team“, a slate that campaigned as the “pro-public education” candidates of the election, each garnered the most votes in their respective races — according to unofficial final results from the Johnson County Election Office on Tuesday night.
While the races were nonpartisan, this year’s Blue Valley school board races demonstrated a clear ideological divide between the two groups — which continue a recent trend of more overt partisanship in these historically lower profile local races.
On Tuesday night, the winning candidates widely agreed their victories signaled a desire among voters for a “straightforward” and non-divisive approach from the school board.
All election results are unofficial until the vote canvass at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
The A+ Team was made up of three incumbents and one newcomer
Incumbent candidates Jodie Dietz, Patrick Hurley and Jan Kessinger joined current Blue Valley Recreation Commission Chairman Clay Norkey in the group.
The group’s goals, as outlined in their campaign, centered around four alliterative focus areas: promoting and supporting Blue Valley’s “Academics, Arts, Athletics, and Activities in a safe and secure environment.”
- In the Position 1 race, Kessinger earned 57% of the total votes.
- In the Position 2 race, Hurley led with 55% of the total votes.
- Dietz led in the Position 3 race with 57% of the total votes.
- In the At-Large race, Norkey took the lead with 57% of the total votes.
Slate looks forward to continuing Blue Valley’s current path
On Tuesday night, Kessinger told the Post the fact that all four “A+ Team” candidates led the way showed a desire from voters to continue the Blue Valley School District’s “continuous path of success.”
“I’d also say that the voters turned away from partisan efforts and extremism, and in a big way, embraced nonpartisan leadership for the good of all the students and the teachers,” he said. “This election shows that Blue Valley School District should stay the course.”
Hurley echoed the sentiment that Tuesday’s unofficial results show a desire from voters to see school board issues become less divisive and more consistent.
“At the end of the day, those of us who believe, who are aware, who understand how the school district works, how kids get educated, (we) kind of stood up and basically said, ‘This is how we move forward,'” he said. “I think that the community said, ‘You’re right. This is the group that needs to be there.'”
In her next term, Dietz said the first priorities for her and her fellow board members will be to focus on teacher support, special education, safety and mental health.
“I really appreciate our community paying attention and and getting out and voting,” she said. “I think we’re all well equipped to be able to continue to lead the district forward.”
As Norkey begins his first term on the board, he said he looks forward to focusing on teacher recruitment and retention, as well as student success.
“We definitely felt the community support behind us,” he said. “I’m really excited about making sure that we provide the very best education that we can here in our community.”
Opponents were newcomers called “Blue Valley Excellence”
All four candidates running in the “Blue Valley Excellence” slate would have been new to the Blue Valley Board of Education.
The group prioritized a “back to basics” academic approach that steers away from “gender ideology and critical race theory.”
Some of the slate’s other focuses included arming the district’s elementary schools, fully funding special education services through the state, and cutting back on in-school mental health support spending.
None of the four Blue Valley Excellence candidates immediately responded to Post requests for comment on Tuesday night.
The race originally had a ninth candidate
- Former Blue Valley board candidate Amie Callahan dropped out of the race earlier this year.
- She cited “unforeseen circumstances” and pledged to “continue to support those committed to quality education with measurable results for our children” in a previous statement to the Post.