The decision to run for your local school board is one to which much thought and consideration must be given. Serving as a board member is one of the most important responsibilities that a citizen can undertake. If elected, the educational standards which board members establish will affect the future of the students, the community, and society. Being a board member is a complex and varied position. However, it is also rewarding, as students succeed and go on to lead productive lives as the result of educational opportunities the board helped to create.
According to Minnesota law, "the care, management, and control of independent districts shall be vested in a board of directors, to be known as the school board." There are certain implications in being responsible for the entire district. Decisions need to reflect what is in the best interest of all students and all citizens. This demands a constant effort and a strong commitment to serving other people.
To those who are willing to devote their time and talents to meeting these challenges, the state school boards association applauds their decision to run for election and wishes them the best of luck.
A GUIDE FOR PROSPECTIVE CANDIDATES
How to Become a Candidate
School board members in Minnesota are elected officials. All districts hold their elections at the General Election in November. State law permits districts the option of holding their election in either the even year or odd year. Members are elected for a four-year term, with at least three members elected each election. With few exceptions, all board members are elected at-large.
The filing period for school board elections is not more than ten nor less than eight weeks before the election. Each candidate must file an affidavit of candidacy with the school district clerk. The filing fee is $2.00.
All candidates are required to complete a Campaign Financial Report within seven days of the election. This report indicates whether a candidate has either received $750 in campaign contributions or expended $750 toward being elected.
Vacancies caused by resignation, death, etc., are filled by an appointment process conducted by the remaining board members.
What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of the School Board?
The major function of the school board is to provide leadership, policy development, policy oversight, and communication. This is usually accomplished by adopting policies which the administrators and staff carry out.
Areas for which the board is responsible for policy include but are not limited to:
Educational program development and monitoring
Student support services
Employee relations including hiring, in-service, and evaluation
Other Board roles include:
Budget adoption, revenue management, and expenditure authorization
Superintendent selections, contract, and evaluation
Ratifying collective bargaining agreements
Care and maintenance of facilities
The qualities of leadership that have been identified are: integrity, perseverance, commitment, ability to plan, vision, initiative, and courage. Effective board members share a number of these characteristics and are also able to work as a team member.
Who Is Eligible?
In order to be eligible to be elected or appointed to a Minnesota school board, one must be:
- At least 21 years old
- A resident of the district for at least 30 days prior to the election or appointment
- An eligible voter
What Makes a Good Board Member?
Effective school board members share a number of common characteristics, but it's important to realize they did not become effective the instant they were elected. Many qualities are acquired through experience and are important to consider:
A conviction that public education is important
The ability to make decisions
Loyalty to the democratic process
Time and energy to devote to board business, including board development opportunities
Ability to accept the will of the majority
Respect for district staff
Ability to communicate well with others