School board member Todd Morgan played football at Rosemont High School, and they won almost every game with him on the starting team. That’s what he told everyone, anyway. The reality is the team won less than half the time, and Todd spent most of that time on the bench.
For years after high school, Todd supported the Rosemont football program coached by Tom Galvin and later Kevin Talbot. He took over Rosemont Pop Warner Pee Wee coaching duties when his son Brian was seven and moved up the age-level brackets in the Pop Warner program each year with his son.
As one of the Pop Warner coaches, Todd met regularly with Kevin Talbot to make sure Kevin ran the right offensive and defensive schemes to properly train the youngsters for the Rosemont program.
Despite this ongoing working relationship with Kevin Talbot, Todd had concerns about the Rosemont football program. After Tom Galvin moved up to principal and later Tom Galvin moved up to principal and later superintendent and left coaching, Rosemont wasn’t winning as often.
Todd tried to share his concerns with Superintendent Galvin, but Galvin brushed him off with his best smile and humorous response and chalked it up to a bad year.
In seventh grade, Todd’s son Brian was small for his age but fast and a determined athlete. With Brian two years away from high school, Todd decided to run for the school board and “fix the football program.”
He won one of the two vacant seats in the May school board election with 306 votes from a total of 511 cast in a district with a population of 14,000 residents and 6,000 eligible voters, a low level of voter turnout typical for school board elections.superintendent and left coaching, Rosemont wasn’t winning as often.
Typical voter turnout in a presidential election year is 50 to 60 percent, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
Not bad, but hardly impressive when compared with other OPEC high wealth countries many of which average over 70 percent turnout.
In New York State and many other states, turnout for school board elections and for school budget votes hovers around 5 to 15 percent of eligible voters. Frequently, the voters select school board members like Todd Morgan who get elected because of single issue concerns. With such low turnout a highly motivated but very small slice of the potential voters can easily sway a school board member election. This can be also true with votes for or against a school budget.
Frequently, a relatively small number of repeat local voters have personal agendas. For example, they hated the new property assessment system, the superintendent who left the district 10 years ago said something that offended them, they like to read the stories in their local newspaper about the latest shouting match at the school board meeting, etc.
And they can send a school district to electoral and management purgatory for decades due to the low voter turnout numbers and weak leadership quality of their school superintendent and school board members to the point where school board meetings becomes a three ring circus.
Is it more than just low turnout? Is the problem more about the quality, qualifications and leadership experience of the candidates running for the school board? Perhaps.
The mythical voter mandate