One longtime Amarillo Independent School District trustee has resigned from his position with about two years remaining on his term.

AISD trustee John Ben Blanchard tendered his resignation to the school district, which was effective at midnight on May 21, district Superintendent Doug Loomis said. Blanchard had served on the school board for 10 years, serving as the board’s vice president during the 2018-2019 school year. Blanchard chaired the final meeting of his tenure, as school board president F. Scott Flow departed for the end of his term.

Trustees will now address the task of selecting a replacement for Blanchard, triggering the second school board appointee search in a year. Trustees previously selected a replacement for trustee James Allen in August 2018, following Allen’s abrupt resignation from the board.

During this month’s board meeting, several citizens addressed the lack of a Hispanic representative on the board, noting the district’s sole Hispanic trustee, John Betancourt, was defeated in his bid for re-election earlier this month. However, Potter County Constable Georgia Estrada was one of several citizens who asked the board to consider appointing Betancourt back to the board to fulfill the final two years of Blanchard’s term.

“We deserve and rightfully need that representation for our district,” Estrada told trustees. “I am asking you to consider … my [suggestion] to appoint John Betancourt back to the board.”

At this time, it is unclear what timeline the board will follow to select a replacement for Blanchard. The vacant seat will be up for a full four-year term in the May 2021 election.

Meanwhile, trustees did select a new board president during their most recent meeting. Trustees selected Robin Malone to become the new school board president, making her the first African-American female to chair the Amarillo ISD board.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.