A vote here sign points potential voters in the right direction at Bowden Elementary School. Photo by Scott Ball.
Following a proclamation by Governor Abbott, education elections scheduled for May could be moved to November in an effort to contain the coronavirus. Credit: Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The campaign to renew funding for Pre-K 4 SA kicked off less than two weeks ago, but now the timing of the scheduled May tax reauthorization election could be in question as Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Wednesday allowing municipalities to delay May 2 elections until November.

The proclamation suspended provisions of the Texas Election Code to allow local governments to postpone their May 2, 2020, elections until Nov. 3, 2020, to prevent spread of coronavirus. Abbott has not made an announcement about whether the primary runoff elections set for May 26 will proceed as scheduled.

The move also could impact school board elections in North East Independent School District, Southwest ISD, Alamo Colleges District, and a bond election in Southside ISD.

Pre-K 4 SA spokesman Paul Chapman told the Rivard Report that Pre-K 4 SA would follow the lead of San Antonio’s elected officials and any announcements they make about local elections.

At a Wednesday evening press conference, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said city council has not started discussing whether to move the Pre-K 4 SA election.

Contacted immediately following Abbott’s announcement, public information officers for NEISD, Southwest ISD, and Alamo Colleges were not sure about whether their elections would be postponed.

NEISD was scheduled to have five trustee seats up for election, Southwest ISD had two, and Alamo Colleges District had three. Southside ISD was asking voter approval on a $64.7 million bond.

NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said the district was waiting to hear further direction from the Bexar County Elections Department.

Southwest ISD spokeswoman Janice Carpio-Hernandez said her district was looking to the Texas Secretary of State for more guidance on how the process would need to be completed and whether board action would need to be taken.

Alamo Colleges spokeswoman Kristi Wyatt said the community college system was still making a determination on how to proceed.

City Council voted to place the Pre-K 4 SA question on the May ballot rather than November to give more time for Pre-K 4 SA to plan for the future. Pre-K 4 SA’s funding is set to expire in June 2021 if voters don’t reauthorize a one-eighth cent sales tax.

“As most of the city is adjusting to a temporary new normal, the Pre-K 4 SA team is also adjusting and is focused on supporting our staff, children and families during this difficult time,” Chapman said.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Director of Elections offered additional guidance for cities and other entities, directing elections officers to preserve all candidate filings, meaning the postponement wouldn’t allow more candidates to file.

Candidates currently serving in positions with delayed elections would continue to hold public office until the new officers could be sworn in.

To delay an election, the political subdivision’s governing body – in San Antonio’s case, the school boards and City Council – would have to order the postponement of the election.

Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said Wednesday that she has no authority to change an election; that decision rests with the individual school districts.

However, she advised against some, but not all entities moving their elections.

“It would be very difficult if we had a split decision. I think that would confuse some of the voters,” Callanen said.

Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the Rivard Report.