Nov 10, 2022 - Politics

Bentonville school board race stays hot

Illustration of a stack of books with an apple sitting on top of them with ballot imagery and shapes behind it

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Two of Bentonville's five school board seats will head to a runoff on Dec. 6.

Why it matters: The race has garnered national attention from a conservative PAC that endorsed school board candidates who opposed teaching critical race theory (CRT) in public schools.

  • One candidate endorsed by the PAC won a school board seat.

The big picture: School board elections have become a battleground for conservative groups, many of whom believe curricula are trending more liberal.

  • New York-based 1776 Project PAC has involved itself in school board contests in states like Florida, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Context: CRT is a graduate-level analytical legal framework examining how race and racism may have influenced American law and institutions.

  • Reality check: Multiple people who work in the Bentonville School District told Axios last week that critical race theory concepts and curricula are not taught in Bentonville schools.

The latest: According to the Benton County election commission's unofficial results:

  • Zone 1 — Joel Dunning, a former teacher, won the area with 53% of the vote against Erron Smith, who collected 47%.
    • Dunning is the only candidate endorsed by the 1776 Project who won a seat.
  • Zone 2 — Jennifer Faddis, the lone incumbent in the race, received nearly 58% of votes cast, and opponent Gail Pianalto saw about 42%.
  • Zone 3 — The three-way race between Jeremy Farmer, Blanca Maldonado and Matthew Smith will lead to a runoff between Farmer (38%) and Maldonado (33%).
  • Zone 4 — Becky Guthrie won the zone with nearly 68% of the vote over opponent Tim Rosenau who received about 32%.
  • Zone 5 — Tatum Aicklen (41%) will face a runoff with Letisha Hinds (29.5%).
    • Of note: Yoselin Bolivar, the third candidate in the race, was endorsed by the 1776 Project. She lost to Hinds by four votes.

Be smart: You can look up what zone you live in here, or see maps here.


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