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School board candidacies finalize today

Apr 18, 2011 9:32 am
Today, April 18, is the final day for potential school board candidates, incumbents included, can file petitions for a place on ballots for the school budget votes and elections that take place on Tuesday, May 17. According to the New York State School Boards Association, candidates must submit a nominating petition to the school district clerk. The petition must be signed by at least 25 qualified district voters or two percent of the number of those who voted in the previous annual election, whichever number is greater. The petition must include the candidate’s name and residence, the vacancy in question, the incumbent’s (if any) name, the residences of the persons who signed the petition and the length of the term of office for which the candidate is being nominated. State law requires all candidates for election to a board of education to file a sworn statement with the district clerk disclosing their campaign expenses. If expenditures made by the candidate or by others on the candidate’s behalf exceed $500, a statement also should be filed with the commissioner of education. Expenditures of not more than $25 may be made without the candidate’s permission if the donor or donors file a sworn statement with the clerk and the commissioner stating that the candidate did not approve the expenditure.

What does a board member do? According to the Association website, school board members act officially only at the board table, working with other board members to create a shared vision; set student performance standards; oversee development of assessment program based on those standards; account for student achievement results; adopt the annual budget, aligning district resources to improve achievement; create a healthy environment for work and learning; build strategic partnerships; sustain the district’s progress through continuous improvement; adopt and maintain current policies in written format; hire and evaluate the superintendent; ratify collective bargaining agreements and maintain strong ethical standards. Usually, winning candidates are sworn in with the start of a new school year after July 1, although occasionally board members get seated just following an election, if they are running to fill an appointed seat. Board seats tend to be staggered for three, four and five year appointments, staggered so all board positions are never open at the same time. "Generally, school board candidates must be at least 18 years old, qualified voters in the school district and able to read and write," the Association's website decrees. "They must be residents of their districts continuously for one year before the election. They cannot be employed by the board on which they serve or live in the same household with a family member who is also a member of the same school board."

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