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Fill the vacancy

John Cole is out as District E’s trustee on the Clark County School Board. Mr. Cole already had decided against seeking election this year – he was appointed 18 months ago to complete the term of Terri Janison, who resigned to work for Gov. Brian Sandoval’s administration – but the former Fremont Street Experience executive decided an employment opportunity in Colorado couldn’t wait.

In an ideal world, Mr. Cole would have completed Ms. Janison’s term. But Mr. Cole is moving on, effective June 19.

It will be five months before District E voters settle on a new trustee, and seven months until that trustee is sworn in. Although the School Board could easily appoint a replacement for Mr. Cole, a school district spokeswoman says the board will carry on with just six members, and that any tie votes will be re-deliberated and re-voted.

Tie votes can be problematic, as Southern Nevadans know too well from last year’s Regional Transportation Commission bus contract debacle.

What’s more troubling, however, is the prospect of District E voters having no representation on the School Board until January. The northwest district includes Summerlin, Centennial Hills and Charleston Heights, areas with lots of educated, engaged parents, as well as neighborhoods with struggling schools.

Summer break is here, but education issues don’t go away. The school district will be dealing with layoffs of teachers and other labor and budget matters in the immediate future. Once the new school year starts, plenty of families will encounter situations that require the attention of a steward. Additionally, the school district has a construction funding question on November’s ballot, the details of which are far from settled. Mr. Cole’s seat must not be left empty for so long.

Four candidates are seeking the District E seat. Two of them will be eliminated in Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary election. Neither of the runoff candidates should unfairly gain the advantage of incumbency.

The School Board should appoint a placeholder – someone who can capably fulfill the requirements of the office into the fall – until the voters’ choice can take the helm. District E’s nearly 300,000 residents must not be denied a voice on the Clark County School Board for the remainder of 2012.

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