School Board Elections are on the Ballot Tuesday
Gone are the days of sleepy school board meetings and uneventful school board elections.
As news outlets across the country have reported, school board meetings have become increasingly contentious, especially over the past year. Our local schools are experiencing this as well.
Election day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022
With election day, November 8, 2022, quickly approaching, the squabbling has moved from the board room to the campaign trail.
But, apart from the drama, many people are unfamiliar with how a school board actually operates or what they do. That’s where this article comes in.
The School Board is the Boss that You Get to Pick
If you’ve ever worked for a bad boss or a good boss, you’ll appreciate this analogy. In a good workplace, the leadership respects each other and focuses energy on accomplishing a common task.
When you vote for school board members, you’re not just voting for a person’s ideologies. You’re voting for their ability to lead, work on a team, set aside differences, and use your district’s resources wisely.
The school board is in charge of setting the “what” while the superintendent set the “how.”
You get to pick the kind of boss your school system has when you vote for school board members on Tuesday.
School Board Elections are at the End of the Ballot & are Nonpartisan
What does that mean?
Straight-ticket or single-issue voters might be thrown off when they get to the nonpartisan section of the ballot.
There are no R or D symbols next to a candidate’s name, even though a candidate may have political leanings.
Find Out Who & What is on Your Ballot
The State of Michigan has an easy-to-use form that allows you to see your ballot.
It can be hard to locate information on school board candidates.
Most candidates have a website or a Facebook page – that is a good place to start.
You can also look for endorsements from organizations that align with your goals. While school board elections are nonpartisan, partisan groups have issued candidate endorsements.
Finally, talk to the current parents of students in your school district. The people that have kids in the schools right now are the ones that can tell you what is needed in their district. There are a lot of outside influences at work in local elections right now. Look at candidates’ campaign donations and funding sources to see if non-local entities are getting involved.
We’ve included links to several candidate surveys, etc that we found.
Where to Vote & How to Register
In Michigan, you can register to vote and vote in person up until – and on – Election Day at your city or township clerk’s office.
You must be in your city or township clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to register and vote in the general election.
If you’re registered have questions about where to go, this link will also help.
What do School Board Members Do?
According to the Michigan Association of School Boards, the board, working with its community, has five major leadership responsibilities:
1) To envision the district’s education future and then set goals to guide the district toward that vision.
2) To ensure district resources (financial, personnel, facilities, etc.) and policies are aligned in a manner that supports goal attainment and actualization of the district’s vision.
3) To hire, work closely with and evaluate a superintendent who’ll effectively implement the board’s policies and manage the district to accomplish its goals.
4) To monitor and assess the district’s performance and to keep the public informed and engaged.
5) To advocate for students and public schools within the community and at state and national levels.
Typically, a school board member is expected to make decisions on a wide range of issues including:
◦ Approving plans for facilities and technology.
◦ Setting priorities for school district expenditures.
◦ Overseeing the district’s educational programs.
◦ Monitoring and ensuring the efficacy of school improvement efforts.
◦ Approving contracts, including collective bargaining agreements and administrator contracts.
The school board also works closely with the superintendent. The superintendent is accountable to the school board for managing the district according to board policies.
What qualifications are needed to run for a seat on the school board?
To run for a seat on the school board, the candidate must:
◦ Be a registered voter in the school district where they are a candidate
◦ Be at least 18 years of age
◦ A citizen of the United States
◦ A resident of the state of Michigan for at least 30 days
◦ Be a resident of the school district on or before the 30th day prior to the date of the election
Are school board members paid?
Typically, school board members are volunteers and do not receive a salary. Some districts provide a small stipend for meeting attendance or task completion. This can vary greatly from district to district.
District School Board Elections
Below are samples of what the ballot looks like for many local school board elections. While not a complete list, hopefully it will get you started when looking into your local race.
Allendale Public Schools
Belding Public Schools
Byron Center Public Schools
Comstock Park Public Schools
Coopersville Area Public Schools
Grandville Public Schools
Grand Haven Public Schools
Holland Public Schools
Rockford Public Schools
Sparta Area Schools
Thornapple- Kellogg Public Schools
Wyoming Public Schools
Zeeland Public Schools
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