PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The pressures of COVID-related decision-making is making some school board members in Arizona want to get out of elected leadership.

The Arizona School Board Association (ASBA), which acts as an advocate for school boards across the state, says we need a broader state leadership role in managing the pandemic.

Gilbert Public Schools

"There are good board members out there saying, 'When my term is up, I'm not running again. This has done me in,' because the amount of public pressure they're under over this has been unlike anything they've ever seen before," said ASBA's Chris Kotterman.

Weeks before the school year began, we talked with multiple superintendents who said they felt unequipped to make decisions about returning to the classroom.

"We are not medical doctors. We are not health professionals," said Cave Creek Unified's Debbi Burdick in August. "These are very difficult decisions for us to be making for our school boards."

That was before there was any clear guidance from the state regarding school closures/online learning, etc. Now, even with that guidance, district leaders around the state have still had a lot on their shoulders.

"The amount of public pressure they're under over this has been unlike anything they've ever seen before," Kotterman said.

Reed Carr, a governing board member for Gilbert Public Schools, has a term that ends this year. Since he ran unopposed this cycle, the election was canceled, and Carr will be back for another term. But even he knows the stress of COVID-related decisions. One day he had more than 800 emails from parents about it -- some good and some bad.

"I think every school board member got involved with education because they cared about improving education," he said. "Instead, we've spent the bulk of our time talking about whether to even have school and whether kids are educated."

Kotterman agrees, saying most parents ran for office because they were passionate about academics and athletics.

"They didn't run to make a decision on whether or not it's safe to have kids pass a disease onto their parents or grandparents," he said.

ASBA is calling on the state for more evidence-based metrics when it comes to closing and reopening schools. Kotterman also wants the governor and the health department to make a bigger push for more testing statewide.

 

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