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Before a packed meeting room, Louisiana State Education Superintendent John White, right, presents a plan to revamp public schools at the BESE meeting Wednesday March 29, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.. Watching is Assistant Louisiana State Education Superintendent Jessica Baghian, left,

A majority of the members of Louisiana's top school board plan to seek re-election next year, which means the panel's support for major changes in public schools likely will continue unless multiple incumbents are ousted.

Two other members also may seek another term but say they are undecided for now.

A total of eight members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are elected, with three others named by the governor.

The elections are Oct. 12, 2019, and some members could have a change of heart before then.

However, six BESE members who are generally aligned with state Superintendent of Education John White say they plan to be on next year's ballot. That also boosts chances that the gulf between the board and Gov. John Bel Edwards, if he wins a second term, is likely to continue.

Those who say they plan to run again are BESE Vice President Holly Boffy, who lives in Youngsville; Jim Garvey, of Metairie; Sandy Holloway, of Thibodaux; Kira Orange Jones, of New Orleans; Tony Davis, of Natchitoches; and Jada Lewis, of Baton Rouge.

They make up six of the seven business-backed contenders who were elected in 2015, overcoming critics who rallied around a slate called FLIP BESE.

Gary Jones, president of BESE and a White ally, said he is leaning against seeking another term, in part because of the time he must be away from his family in Alexandria.

Kathy Edmonston, the lone teacher union-backed candidate who won three years ago, said she has not decided on running. "I just really don't know," said Edmonston, who lives in Gonzales. "I am thinking about it and praying about it."

Officials of education groups who follow BESE say no newcomers have announced plans to run.

Qualifying is Aug. 6-8, 2019. 

BESE races for years got little attention, largely because most voters know little about the board that sets policies for public schools statewide.

In addition, the contests take place at the same times voters decide on a governor. But the races have gotten lots of attention, and heavy spending both from within and outside of Louisiana, in the past two election cycles.

In 2015 anger over Common Core, the new standard for reading, writing and math, helped convince a wide range of challengers to enter races statewide.

In 2011 then-Gov. Bobby Jindal, who faced only token opposition for a second term, was heavily involved in BESE races to ensure the selection of his then-ally White to be superintendent. White got the job but later had a falling out with Jindal over Common Core.

Edwards, who is aligned with teacher unions and other traditional public school groups, is not likely to repeat Jindal's 2011 involvement in BESE contests. The governor is expected to have credible challengers in his bid for a second term.

BESE is generally aligned with advocates of charter schools, vouchers and other policies that challenge traditional public school practices.

Charters are public schools run by non-governmental boards.

Vouchers are state aid for low-income students in troubled public schools to attend private schools.

White can generally count on seven BESE votes, and sometimes more, on key issues.

While Edmonston was backed by teacher unions she still wins praise from business groups.

"She has been a very good board member," said Brigitte Nieland, who follows public school issues for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

Two of the governor's three appointees — Thomas Roque and Lurie Thomason — are low-profile members.

The exception is Doris Voitier, veteran superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish School District and one of BESE's most outspoken members.

The 2015 races sparked heavy interest when Common Core was a divisive topic. At this point, the 2019 races include no such galvanizing issue.

LABI's political arm is a regular contributor to BESE candidates backed by the group.

"They are a high priority for us," Nieland said of the races. "Our education system has everything to do with our economic activity, our entire quality of life for this state."

The Louisiana Association of Educators, which sometimes recruits candidates, offers training sessions twice a year for current and retired teachers on how to run campaigns.

BESE often votes against positions taken by the LAE and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the other teacher's union.

"Based on our philosophy, we would like to see a change," said Shane Riddle, legislative and political director for the LAE.

Next year's races could also help shape White's future.

White is paid $275,000 per year and is one of the longest serving state superintendents in the nation.

However, he works on a month-to-month contract because of an impasse on BESE over renewing his contract.

He is believed to be at least one vote short of the super majority — eight of 11 votes — needed to craft a new agreement.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.