Thanks to a change in state law in 2015, 2017 is a local school board election year in Kansas. The general election for school board positions will be held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years. If necessary, primary elections will be held on the first Tuesday in August of odd-numbered years. This means, if you’re interested in being involved on your local school board, now is the time to put together a candidacy.
“We simply want it to be someone who wants to serve their community, that wants to serve the students and wants to serve the people, the taxpayers, without a bias, without a preconceived agenda,” said Mark Tallman, the vice president for advocacy with the Kansas Association of School Boards. “That doesn’t mean that you don’t come in with issues you are concerned about, but really to want to do the right thing with an open mind.”
The value in board members is their outside perspective.
“Your balance is between representing the voters, your constituents, being concerned about their students, and at the same time, allowing your professional staff, the superintendent and the people they hire, to do their job, as well,” said Tallman. “A major thing our association tries to help people understand is that the role of the board is to be the one that sets the vision, that provides accountability, that determines how resources will be used. They represent the community in determining the direction to go.”
Once that direction is set, however, you have to work with the people that are hired.
“Those seven members, then, aren’t the ones that are actually running the schools,” said Tallman. “That’s what you hire superintendents, principals, teachers and other staff members to do. Figuring out that line, that doesn’t mean that you agree with everything that your administration feels, that your other colleagues believe, but it’s understanding how to work as a team with other members on the board, with the school employees, to really move the district forward and get better results for all of our students.”
The filing deadline for local school board elections is June 1st. Newly elected members will take office on the second Monday in January of 2018.