CHICAGO (CBS) — Voters in 37 wards voiced overwhelming support for an elected school board on Tuesday, though it’s questionable whether the idea would really go anywhere.
Currently, the members of the Chicago Board of Education are appointed by the mayor. Not all 50 wards were asked on Tuesday’s ballot if the board should be elected, but in the 37 wards that did vote on the issue, between 83 and 93 percent of voters said yes.
The referendum was only advisory, so carries no legal weight, and it’s unlikely voters who want an elected school board will get their wish. Switching to an elected school board would require action by Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner, and the governor opposes the idea.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he thinks putting the question on the ballot was just a political maneuver a way to “trick” voters, because the proposal is a no-go in Springfield.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who is facing Emanuel in an April runoff in the race for mayor, has said he supports an elected school board, and would lobby the legislature to approve an elected school board for Chicago. Barring that, he said he would also file a federal civil rights lawsuit to force the issue.
Chicago’s school board is the only one in Illinois that is not elected.