Garden City USD 457 board member Jean Clifford has announced her filing for the District 5 seat on the Kansas State Board of Education in the upcoming election, a position through which she would represent 87 school districts in western and central Kansas.

The announcement comes in the wake of another announcement. Sally Cauble, the current District 5 representative, has stated that she will not be running for reelection as her third term comes to a close.

Cauble, of Dodge City, already has been made aware of Clifford’s filing and gave her endorsement of Clifford as a candidate on Thursday.

“I really hope that Jean has no competition on this because I think it’d be hard-pressed to find somebody that’s more qualified,” she said. Cauble is not aware of any other candidates who have filed for the position.

When asked why she isn’t running for another term, Cauble said three terms is “long enough.”

“We’re in a really good place on the board for someone new to come on it,” she said. “It’s an exciting time. If you listen to the governor’s report, he practically cited our redesign efforts and what’s going on. It’s a good time for someone new to come on the board, and I think you’ve gotta know when to hold ‘em.”

Clifford has served for eight and a half years on the USD 457 school board, taking into account two terms and a few odd months created by a change in the election cycle a couple years ago.

Clifford took on a third term this year after voters reelected her in November. However, she said that if she is elected to the state school board next November, she will resign from her post three years early upon her appointment in January.

“From what I’ve been able to find out, there is no absolute problem with serving in a dual role, but if I were selected or if I were elected to that position, I would resign my school board position prior to going on to the state school board, just because there could be an appearance of impropriety,” she said. “I don’t think there actually necessarily would be, but I don’t want to have any conflict or appearance of a conflict for anyone.”

Clifford says she has been following the state school board closely and is “excited” about programs slated to come to fruition in coming years. She says she has “loved” her time on the local school board, but, “I think I can serve students even better locally and in Kansas, and especially in District 5, by sitting at the table in Topeka rather than the one in Garden City.”

Clifford said her experience on the school board, as a lawyer, and her activity with the Kansas Association of School Boards have given her a well-rounded background that qualifies her for the District 5 position. She added that Cauble leaves “big shoes to try to fill,” but she hopes to continue her legacy if elected.

“My priorities are always with excellence and education for all of the students,” Clifford said. “I think sometimes that maybe some of the students in some of the areas out where we are don’t always get the attention that they need to have in order to be successful.”

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