Next week, voters in one Amarillo-area school district will decide a heated school board race.

In Canyon Independent School District, voters are heading to the polls for a special election to fill a vacant school board seat following the resignation of trustee Bruce Cobb. The appointed incumbent, Claudia Burkett, is seeking to serve the remainder of the term and is being opposed by businessman Paul Blake.

The school board race in Canyon comes as Texas parents are paying close attention to various educational controversies, including the inappropriate books found in school libraries across the state. The race in Canyon has focused on this issue, with Paul Blake regularly updating the community on the status of the district’s book standards and highlighting the issue in recent social media posts.

In one post to his campaign’s Facebook page, Blake, who says he is running to “utilize [his] core Christian values” as a trustee, called for parents to play a larger role in the debate over which books are appropriate to be in school libraries.

“CISD will develop a policy to review materials for students,” Blake wrote, highlighting discussions from a recent school district meeting. “School staff, parents, and community members are encouraged to help in the selection process. … As the CISD community, we need to encourage parents and community members to take an active role in our students’ education.”

Burkett has also discussed the issue in recent interviews, saying the Canyon ISD school board will soon seek to enact a local policy for the removal of inappropriate books from school libraries.

“We’ll be able to get a policy, because it will be a local policy that we can set to have a procedure in place for us to deem ‘this book is not appropriate to be in our school library,’ and we can remove it,” Burkett said in a recent podcast interview. “I’m very excited to work with other school board members to create this policy to allow us to take some of these books out of our libraries.”

Early voting in this election is ongoing and runs until May 3. Election Day is Saturday, May 7.

Thomas Warren

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