This year three Board of Education seats are up for election. Citizens residing in the Mineral Point area are invited to run for the Board of Education for a three-year term. This year’s seats up for election are Bob Oberhauser, Julie Stephenson, and Dick Austin. The Mineral Point School District was informed that member Dick Austin is not seeking re-election to the school board. In a future column I will share my gratitude for member Austin’s tenure with Mineral Point Schools. In the interim, his seat will become vacant in May. The following excerpts from the Guide for Candidates for School Board written by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) are provided to assist interested candidates for school board.
Qualities of a School Board Member
There are many qualifications and qualities that experienced school board members have indicated are important to school board membership. These include:
• A commitment to the belief that all children of the school district are entitled to have available to them a beneficial educational program.
• An open mind and readiness to learn.
• A willingness to attend seminars and workshops which can help them make intelligent decisions in school affairs.
• A vision and an ability to understand changes in our society.
• The ability to act with other school board members to advance the best interests of the school district.
• The capability to articulate the philosophy and goals of the school and to listen carefully to the criticisms offered by people with differing views.
• A willingness to invest the hours that will be necessary to faithfully discharge their duties.
• Freedom from conflict with any other interest.
What Does the School Board Do?
School boards and school board members deal with local educational conditions and decide local educational issues. School boards have the general responsibility for the management and supervision of their school districts.
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: The school board adopts academic standards for pupils and establishes expectations for education in the district. The school board monitors student achievement and exercises general supervision over the schools.
POLICYMAKING: Policymaking covers the broad range of rules and regulations that school boards enact, alter or repeal. Board policies are the basis of school district operations. It is through policy-making that the board takes action, directing the district administrator and staff regarding district priorities. To have a well-organized school system, the board needs a sound philosophy of education as a basis for policymaking.
BOARD-ADMINISTRATOR RELATIONS: Research has shown that the board-administrator relationship is central to the success of the district. Effective board members are aware of the differences between their role and that of school administrators. In essence, the school board determines what needs to happen and the district administrator and staff determine how to make it happen. The school board sets its goals and operational policies and expects the district administrator to carry them out. Although the board should refrain from becoming involved in the day-to-day operation of the schools, it should follow up on the administration and operation of the schools and require periodic reports for purposes of evaluation.
EVALUATION: Evaluation is a continuous function that applies to policies, people and programs. Regular evaluation of all facets of school operations uncovers areas of success and opportunities in the school system and establishes a basis for future action.
BUDGET RESPONSIBILITY: Nothing conveys what is important to a school board more than the budget it adopts. The board uses public input to align resources with the school system’s vision and goals. After that, the board supervises the execution of the budget, reviews school district accounts and business procedures and provides for an annual audit of the accounts as required by law.
COMMUNICATING WITH THE PUBLIC: There are times when school board members need to take the story of the district’s success to the public, building support of public education. At other times, listening becomes the key communication strategy, understanding the values and concerns of the community, so that appropriate priorities can be established. Effective board members utilize both types of communication strategies to build support and establish relationships with their stakeholders.
ADVOCACY: The board serves as the key advocate in the community for students and their schools— encouraging progress, energizing systemic change and dealing with children as whole persons in a diversified society. In addition, effective school board members engage with state and federal policy makers to ensure that those policymakers understand the impact of legislative action taken at those levels of government.
Q. What are the election procedures for the office of school board member?
In Wisconsin school districts, school board members are elected in the spring in connection with the election of municipal officers. In unified school districts, candidates must file a declaration of candidacy and a campaign finance registration statement with the school district clerk on or before 5 p.m. on the first Tuesday in January.
Q. Do school board members get paid for their service?
The school board annually sets the stipend board members receive for their service. The current stipend is $50 per month.
Q. How are vacancies on school boards filled?
When a vacancy occurs in the office of a board member who is in the last year of his or her term the successor shall be elected at the next spring election. When a vacancy occurs after the last Tuesday in November and on or before the date of the spring election in the office of a board member who is not in the last year of his or her term, the successor shall be elected at the second-following spring election.
General Deadline for Declaring Candidacy – January 6, 2015) – 5:00 p.m.
Spring Primary —Tuesday February 17, 2015
Spring Election —Tuesday April 7, 2015
School Board Members Take Office —Monday April 27, 2015
Please give careful consideration to the information provided prior to running for school board and know that I am available to answer any questions you may have prior to filing candidacy papers. Please feel free to contact me, or my assistant Angie, for any additional information or materials as necessary. I appreciate your consideration.