School board hopefuls grow in number

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 2:13pm

The field of competitors interested in Alan Coverstone’s recently vacated school board seat is getting crowded.

Prominent education advocate Kay Simmons, who has worked over the years in positions including executive director of the Nashville Alliance for Public Education and director of instructional advancement at Montgomery Bell Academy, has confirmed her interest in the job.

So has Rich Haglund, the attorney for the Tennessee Board of Education, and Julie Lamb, an active Bellevue parent. These names are in addition to others who have confirmed their intent in pursuing the position, including Paul Brenner, Martin Kennedy, Lee Limbird and Elizabeth Merkel.

Candidates still have another week to throw their names in the ring. Council members representing the West Nashville areas that are part of District 9, as well as the at-large Council members with District 9 addresses, are working to come to a consensus on a single nomination. The Council as a whole, however, will determine Coverstone’s replacement.

At-large Council member Ronnie Steine said Tuesday that he won’t decide which candidate to back until everyone has openly entered the race. Still, he considers Simmons an “attractive candidate” with an “understanding of the system.”

“I’m not sure what I’m doing yet, but this throws it into a whole new light,” Steine said.

Still, it would be premature to consider Simmons a solo frontrunner. Comments from Council members suggest that four candidates, to date, stand the best chance of receiving the consensus nomination from West Nashville Council members: Haglund, Limbird, Merkel and Simmons. Limbird came in second to Coverstone in last year’s election and has worked for years in medical higher education, and Merkel is the legislative director for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Coverstone recently resigned from his position to pursue a Metro schools job overseeing charter schools. He was elected in July of last year, and officially joined the board in August. Coverstone’s Council-appointed successor will hold the District 9 school board seat until the next regularly scheduled election in 2010.