Fights over school boards share ballot with North Carolina's Senate primary

In many North Carolina counties, the May 17 primary offers voters a long list of candidates to choose from for their local school board.
"We are seeing a lot more people running and a lot of veteran school board members retiring," said Leanne Winner, executive director of the North Carolina School Boards Association.
School board candidate Stanley Elrod carries an armful of campaign signs at a candidate forum at West Forsyth High School on May 11.
"Many school board meetings became very contentious over the last couple of years," she added.
Now she's running in the Republican primary for a seat on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.
Sarah Absher, center in pink, is one of 28 primary candidates vying for nine positions on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.
Politics seep into school board racesThe North Carolina Democratic and Republican parties are paying a lot of attention to school board races this year.
"Education is a huge focus for us at every level," said North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley.
School board candidate and current board chair Deanna Kaplan, center, takes a selfie with supporters at West Forsyth High School on May 11.
Earlier this year, the North Carolina Values Coalition, a Christian non-profit, sponsored two school board "boot camps" attended by more than 80 local candidates.
North Carolina Democratic Party chair Bobbie Richardson said her party is trying to keep politics out of school board races.
"While Republicans attempt to inject politics into the classroom, North Carolina Democrats will continue to fight for the best education possible for our students," said Richardson.