BULLHEAD CITY — Challenger Richard Cardone appears to be headed for a spot on the Colorado River Union High School District’s governing board.

Unofficial vote totals at 11 p.m. showed Cardone solidly in first place in the eight-candidate field with challenger Pat Young second and incumbent Lori Crampton third.

Cardone had a lead of about 600 votes over Young and nearly 700 over Crampton, according to figures from the Mohave County Elections Department.

Cardone earlier said the CRUHSD needed to re-focus on educational endeavors.

Tuesday night, Cardone said he’s ready to engage in a dialogue with all parties toward finding ways to improve the education CRUHSD students get.

“I look forward to working with all board members, the administration and all the teachers in a constructive, positive direction to improve the educational experience of all the students,” he said.

Cardone said that he thought voters wanted some change.

“They saw a number of things going on at the school board meetings that my constituents didn’t like,” he said. “And they want a voice; I hope to be that voice.”

He said his number-one priority is to refocus on education.

“I think this fieldhouse situation has distracted from the curriculum and the academic endeavors of our students,” he said. 

The Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse, approved by district voters last year, met with virulent opposition after the fact, with some residents criticizing board members at meetings and saying that insufficient information on the project had been presented to the public.

The fieldhouse, future home of Mohave and River Valley high school athletic events, is expected to open in early March.

Cardone said he wants to review CRUHSD curricula and educational media and put in place the most up-to-date learning tools that the district can afford.

Cardone said he’s concerned about slippage in letter grades from the Arizona Department of Education.

“River Valley went from a ‘B’ to a ‘C,’ ” he said. “Mohave from an ‘A’ to a ‘C.’ (Mohave Accelerated Learning) is a ‘B’ — we’re doing something wrong.”

Cardone said fixing that begins with talking to stakeholders and coming up with initiatives for improvement.

Crampton, an incumbent, was more than 1,300 votes ahead of Eva Corbett, who was running fourth according to the 11 p.m. update.

“I’m excited to be able to serve and help continue to improve education in our schools and our community for another four years,” said Crampton, heading for a third four-year term.

She said her goals include making a transition to ACT-based testing, and increasing the district’s dual enrollment offerings, which allow high-school students to earn college credits at no cost.

“I’m really hoping to recruit and retain more quality teachers,” Crampton said. “I’ve personally tried to help the people we do have feel appreciated.”

She also spoke of getting the state to update its aid formula to put more money into public education.

In her eight years on the board, Crampton said she’s proud of the district’s increased graduation rate and that every CRUHSD junior now takes the ACT.

She said she’s excited for the possibilities the fieldhouse opens for students, and of the board’s financial management of the district, including shared services agreements with the Bullhead City Elementary School District, which have led to six-figure savings.

“We’re combining resources with the elementary school district,” she said, “and every time we’ve done that put money into teachers’ pockets.

“We’ve continued to be so diligent in our budget that we were able to give (teacher) raises when no one else in the state has been able to.”

Incumbent Laureen Davidson was fifth at 11 p.m., followed in order by challengers Royanne Ortiz, Carlos Lopez and Mishaun Newman.

If those numbers hold, Cardone, Young and Crampton will join Donna Williamson and Kerry Burgess on the five-member board. Board President Kari Hoffman did not seek re-election.

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