HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – Hanover voters have rejected a proposal to elect the county’s school board members.

A question on the ballot this year asked voters if they wanted to start electing school board members instead of having the board of supervisors appoint them.

It was defeated with a margin of 53% to 47%, with all precincts reporting. (Provisional ballots need to be counted, and mail-in ballots could still come in, but The Associated Press called the referendum)

With the vote, Hanover County will remain one of a few Virginia localities with school board members picked by its governing body instead of voters.

Hanover Citizens for an Elected School Board, a nonpartisan group of county citizens, pursued a grassroots effort to collect signatures needed to add a referendum to the ballot for the Nov. 7 state elections — at least 10% of the county’s registered voters.

Michael Berdan, a volunteer with the group, called the result disappointing.

“There was a lot of misinformation and bad faith argument on the part of the vote no campaign,” said Berdan. “Our simple hope was to get more voice of parents in the education of our kids and how our tax dollars are spent.” 

The group’s push followed years of efforts and calls for Hanover to shift to an elected school board, including from the county’s NAACP branch, as well as advocates, parents and other residents.

Members pointed to recent decisions by the school board, specifically a vote in June giving members more authority over the books on school library shelves and a subsequent decision to ban several books.

They faced opposition from Keep Hanover Students First, a referendum committee backed by the Hanover Republican Committee.

Karen Reardon, part of the Volunteer Group for the No Vote for the Elected School Board in Hanover County, said she was pleased with the result.

“We are thrilled and excited,” said Reardon. “It was a lot of hard work. And it was a hard fought battle. But we were very happy because we believe the no vote means a win for our kids and for education.”

8News relies on The Associated Press for calls on state legislative races and local ballot questions. All election results are unofficial until certified by the state Board of Elections.