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Becoming a School Board Member in Litchfield Park, Arizona

We all have thought over the years that our school board has done its best to serve us. Yet, we find just about any building in the school district that you look at is in disrepair. I asked the WB Area Superintendent's Office yesterday if there were a big Mahoff in a position such as Executive District Engineer, who understands buildings and who would understand what is needed so that the School Superintendent would not have to be an architect or an engineer. I received no answer. However, the next day my question was gracefully answered. There is no architect or engineer. 

Relying on consultants who also will be available to get any contracts let for improvements is no way to run a show. We found that out for sure. Some people take running a school district seriously. I think the people of Wilkes-Barre will enjoy reading this article from Litchfield Arizona about how to become a school director. Here it is. It will help us all get a feel for how we should have been served.   


Quick Facts about Board Membership

Board members must:

Finally, a person who has an immediate family member sitting on a School District Governing Board and who has shared the same household of residence with that family member within four years prior to the election is ineligible to be a candidate for nomination or election to that Governing Board if the Governing Board is composed of five members, unless the immediate family member is serving in the last year of a term of office; persons related as immediate family who have the same household of residence within four years prior are also ineligible to be simultaneous candidates for nomination or election to the Governing Board of the same School District if the Governing Board is composed of five members.

The position is unpaid, though some expenses may be reimbursed.

School Board members have no individual authority over school matters. The authority of a Board member includes expressing an opinion and casting a vote as a part of the Governing Board in a Board meeting.

WHAT DO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS DO?

School board members are responsible for broad, futuristic thinking, minute analysis and decisive action in all areas that affect students and staff in their schools. Some roles and responsibilities are implicit. Others are specifically mandated by Arizona law. Everything Board members do is focused on providing the best education possible for the children in their community.

Set the Direction

The Governing Board, with extensive involvement from the staff and community, is responsible for envisioning the future of the public schools in their community. After setting the vision and mission for the District, the Governing Board works collaboratively to establish strategic goals to move the organization toward the community's vision for its schools.

Establish the Structure

Board policies and goals establish the structure and create the environment for ensuring that all students are served. The superintendent uses the structure established by the Board to manage operations on a day-to-day basis. Although the Superintendent may suggest changes to policies, only the Board as a whole has the legal authority to adopt policy.

Provide Support

The Board provides support to its organization by ensuring that resources are adequate and aligned to meet established goals. Support also is provided by recognizing and encouraging excellence throughout the organization.

Ensure Accountability

As the community's representative in the local schools, the Board is responsible for ensuring that the schools are well run – that resources are used wisely and that high standards for academic performance are set. The Board as a whole needs to monitor performance to meet established goals – academic, financial and operational.

Advocate for Your Students

One of the Board's most important roles is to be the ambassador for public education in the community. As individuals, each Board member can help communicate the ways in which their local schools are supporting student educational needs, parent and community aspirations, and state and federal standards. Together, the Board also can demonstrate that an atmosphere of collaboration and respect is the most conducive environment for providing the best education for children in the community.

Specific Duties

Specific duties of School Boards may relate to employment, purchasing, budget preparation, students and policies. They may include:

Hiring and evaluating the District Superintendent.
Providing guidance in the development of the budget to ensure funding needed to meet Board established goals.
Approving the budget.
Monitoring the budget.
Setting salaries for employees.
Approving purchases.
Establishing and approving policies.
Approving curriculum materials.
Adopting the school calendar.
Reviewing regulations for compliance with policy.
Approving personnel actions based on the Superintendent's recommendation.
Closing or constructing schools.
Assessing Board effectiveness.
Monitoring progress toward goals.
Mandatory duties of School Boards are defined in A.R.S. §15-341. Discretionary powers are defined in A.R.S. §15-342.

What School Board Members and Boards DON'T Do

School Board members DON'T:

FAQs: RUNNING FOR ELECTION

Who is eligible to run for election?

Any registered voter in the State of Arizona who also is a resident of the School District in which he or she resides for at least one year immediately preceding the day of election is eligible to run for a position on the local School Board.

A person who is employed, or whose spouse is employed, by a District can stand for election as a Governing Board member. However, if elected, the successful candidate and/or spouse must terminate employment with the District before taking office.

Board members cannot serve simultaneously on more than one School District Governing Board.

Finally, a person who has an immediate family member sitting on a School District Governing Board and who has shared the same household of residence with that family member within four years prior to the election is ineligible to be a candidate for nomination or election to that Governing Board if the Governing Board is composed of five members, unless the immediate family member is serving in the last year of a term of office; persons related as immediate family who have the same household of residence within four years prior are also ineligible to be simultaneous candidates for nomination or election to the Governing Board of the same School District if the Governing Board is composed of five members.

What is the term of office?

Election is for a four-year term, except for those positions filling a vacancy in office.

When are elections for School Board members held?

School Board elections are part of the general election in even-numbered years. Special elections to fill unanticipated vacancies occurring between regular elections may be called by the County Superintendent of Schools. (County School Superintendents may also choose to appoint an individual to fill such a vacancy.)

How about the primary election?

Primary elections do not pertain to the election of School Board members.

Are nominating petitions necessary?

Yes. Eligible persons desiring to run for the School Board should

1. Obtain nominating petition forms from the County Superintendent of Schools;

2. Ask the County Superintendent how many signatures of qualified electors residing in the School District are required;

3. Obtain necessary signatures, being very careful to follow the legal requirements for valid signatures; and

4. File the nominating petitions with the County Superintendent of Schools not later than 90 days prior to the election.

Where will my name appear on the ballot?

The names of School Board candidates are printed in the non-partisan section of the ballot.

If elected, when will I take office?

You will take office at the first organizational meeting of the School Board, which must be held between the first and 15th day of January following the general election. The oath of office is administered at any time after receiving your certificate of election, and at least one day before commencement of the term of office.

Am I required to file a campaign finance report?

School Board candidates who intend to receive or spend $500 or less in one election campaign are exempt from filing campaign finance reports if they file an exemption statement with the county elections office. Candidates who exceed the $500 threshold must register a political committee to serve as a campaign committee and file campaign finance reports that itemize receipts and expenditures, and identify persons who contribute $25 or more. Limitations exist on the amount that can be accepted from one individual contributor. Consult your county elections office for donation guidelines. Forms may be obtained from your county elections office or county school superintendent.

Must I file a financial disclosure statement?

No. The detailed personal financial disclosure statement required by A.R.S. §38-542 is not required of Governing Board members.

The Basics of Running for Election

MARICOPA COUNTY
4041 N. Central Ave., #1100
Phoenix, AZ 85012
(602) 506-3866
www.maricopa.gov/schools

 

OTHER COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BOARD SERVICE

How often does a School Board meet?

It varies. Boards must meet at least once a month during the school year. Many Boards regularly meet twice a month year round and call special meetings as needed.

Will I get paid?

No. Members may be reimbursed for travel and subsistence expenses for authorized school purposes.

As a Board member, can I be held personally liable for legal claims against the Board or the School District?

As a general rule, no. By State law, Governing Board members cannot be held liable for actions taken in good faith and within the scope of their authority. Boards also may receive legal counsel to advise them, and the liability insurance of most, if not all, organizations covers Board members who are acting in their official capacity. A Governing Board member is not immune from liability, however, if he or she:

Acts outside the scope of authority;

Yes, but a Board member cannot vote on matters in which he or she has a conflict of interest, and, in most circumstances, a Board member's company may seek only contracts offered by competitive bidding. The conflict of interest restrictions applicable to Governing Board members vary if the District's enrollment is greater or less than 3,000 students.

What happens if I move out of the District while I hold office?

Governing Board members must reside in their District to hold office. When notified that a member has moved from the District, the County Superintendent can fill the vacancy by appointment or by calling a special election. 

ASBA “School Board Service in Arizona” webinar now on YouTube


This recording of ASBA's March 26 live webinar covers the rewards and challenges of Board service, what School Board members do (and what they don’t do), and eligibility and the basics of running for office. ASBA staff members provide answers to frequently asked questions about Board service as well as respond to questions from webinar participants. Listen to the webinar on our YouTube channel

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Editor's Note: Sounds like they take their jobs seriously in Arizona!