The Nashville school board will have three new members while one incumbent held onto her seat after Thursday’s election.
Incumbent Fran Bush, an independent, lost to Democrat Cheryl Mayes in District 6. While on the board in 2021, Bush faced controversy when she told teachers “quit your day job” if they did not feel safe returning to schools during COVID-19. The Nashville Education Association then filed a complaint against her.
Incumbent Rachael Anne Elrod will keep her seat in District 2, with Democrats Berthena Nabaa-McKinney and Erin O’Hara Block taking seats in Districts 4 and 8.
This year marked the first time the school board elections were partisan after Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation last year allowing that option.
See below for more information and results.
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District 2: Rachael Anne Elrod
Democrat Rachael Anne Elrod will likely represent District 2 on the school board. She led Republican Todd Pembroke by a margin of 58% to 39%.
Elrod spent a decade teaching first grade and implementing classroom improvement strategies across the nation, according to her website. Elrod’s campaign issues included expanding pre-K, staff retention, increasing classroom resources, a “holistic” approach to education including “wraparound services” for students, and changing assessment methods.
Her opponent, Todd Pembroke, ran on a “no woke” platform, according to his website. His platform included transparent communication, a spending audit, and discipline and respect. Edward Arnold, a doctoral student at Tennessee State University, is an independent. He said if elected, his main priorities would be spending cuts in order to fund teacher’s assistants, re-examining school discipline statistics and “equitable student funding.” Arnold said he didn’t expect to win.
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District 4: Berthena Nabaa-McKinney
Democrat Berthena Nabaa-McKinney won the race for District 4 by a margin of 62% to 38%.
Nabaa-McKinney, a former educator, served on the school board for several months in 2020. According to her website, Nabaa-McKinney’s platform included increasing school funding, improving work conditions, repairing mental health, closing achievement gaps and improving communication. She beat incumbent John Little in the Democratic primary amid questions of his residence and eligibility.
Her opponent, Republican Kelli Phillips, owned a daycare, worked in construction management and spoke against mask mandates in 2021. Phillips’ campaign issues included reducing what she called “CRT and political correctness” and increasing communication between parents and the school board.
District 6: Cheryl Mayes
Election night results showed Democrat Cheryl Mayes beating her opponent Fran Bush, an incumbent, by a margin of 70% to 30%.
Cheryl Mayes said she ran so residents of District 6 would feel like they had a voice again.
“I am excited. I am excited for the children, parents, educators, bus drivers and everyone else. This is for them,” Mayes said. “I would like to tell all my voters and supporters that I am so grateful and thankful for everything, and I will do my best to represent them.”
She said she would prioritize community engagement and representing students, families and employees of Nashville public schools. Mayes was a board member from 2010 to 2014 before becoming the district director for Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper.
Bush ran as an independent. She had been on the school board since 2018 and planned to use her second term to continue advocating for parents. Bush was previously vocal on her disagreement with schools staying closed due to COVID-19.
District 8: Erin O’Hara Block
Erin O’Hara Block will represent District 8 after beating her opponent Amy Pate, an independent, by a margin of 68% to 32%.
Block is the former executive director of the Tennessee Education Research Alliance, according to her website. She ran on the issues of teacher quality and retention, targeting specific problems, and repairing students’ academic and mental health.
Pate, a graduate of Metro Nashville Public Schools, ran as a parent advocate. In 2020, Pate and several other parents formed Let Nashville Parents Choose, a group that advocated letting parents choose between virtual and in-person learning.