Rochester, MN  (KROC AM News) - There will be no change in the Rochester School Board election after all.

Earlier this week, the Rochester School District announced it had notified candidates running for the three seats on the school board this year about a significant change.

The district said unlike past years when candidates ran for a specific seat, all candidates would essentially be placed in a pool. If there were more than twice the number of candidates for the available seats, a primary would be required. Voters would then narrow the list to two candidates per seat.This pool of candidates would advance to the general election where the top vote-getters would be awarded the available seats. 

Spokeswoman Heather Nessler says the district has since been told not to make any changes from past elections, meaning candidates will run for the seats they filed for.  

This means there will still be a primary but for just one seat, the one currently held by Deborah Seelinger. She is being challenged by Bobbie Gallas and John League. The two who get the most votes in the primary will move to the November election.

The other two seats up for election this year are each being contested by two candidates, meaning a primary is not necessary.

Here is the latest communication on the issue from the Rochester School District :

Dear <<Candidate>>,

This letter is an update to the first letter you received regarding a law change for school board elections.

Rochester Public Schools (RPS) issued an initial letter to school board candidates on June 10, 2016 regarding a change in the law during the filing period. The Minnesota Secretary of State suggested developing a communication plan regarding the change in the law.

As of June 14, 2016 RPS was notified by the Secretary of State Department regarding the change of M.S. 205A.03, subd. 3. In light of the special law, Laws 1969 Chapter 193, Section 3, ISD 535 is permitted to use an alley system for at large elections of the school board. A copy of the special law is attached.

M.S. 205A.03, subd. 3 as amended does not apply to ISD 535. “Position #” offices can be printed on the ballot.  As there are more than twice the number of candidates filed for Position 3 as there are seats to be filled, Position 3 and the candidates filed for that seat will be on the August 9 State Primary Ballot, with the top 2 voter getters nominated for the General Election in November. Position 1 and Position 7 and the candidates filed for each respective seat will also appear on the General Election ballot.   

Olmsted County will be making the necessary updates to the Election Reporting System to reflect the special law.

Essentially, the primary and general election will occur as you were anticipating when you filed for a seat on the RPS School Board. We apologize for the multiple messages and confusion this may have caused. Please contact the office of Business Services at 507.328.4210 for questions.

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John Carlson
Executive Director of Finance

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