SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION
Following reports in the local and national news, it would seem that this is the time to file for school board election. For school districts that are conducting a primary election, that would be true. In the ROCORI District, however, there is still time to consider running for the position of school board. The filing period actually opens in the early part of August.
As the local media emphasizes election information, I would like to share some information about the school board elections in the ROCORI School District
The ROCORI School Board consists of six members. The six members are elected “at large” across the district which means there are no wards or election boundaries within the school district. School Board members may, then, be elected from any part of the district and there is no specific designation among the board seats.
Half of the ROCORI School Board is elected at one period of time and the other half are elected two years later. We chose, quite some time go, to have our elections conducted during the general election rather than an “off-year” election. This means that the district can share the costs of the election with the cities and county as other positions are also on the ballot.
If the district ran an election on its own, our best estimates indicate the election would cost the district about $10,000 with the printing of the ballots, publication of information, hiring of election judges, use of election equipment, and all elements of the election.
Election year 2016 brings potential for change of the membership of the ROCORI School Board. Three seats for the board will be up for election at the end of the year. The terms for Mike Austreng, Nadine Schnettler and Mike Austreng will come to conclusion at the end of December.
In addition to the normal board seats, school board member Richard Bohannon submitted a resignation from the board in April. He and his family moved outside of the district boundaries which meant he could no longer hold his seat.
Current Minnesota law requires the district to fill the vacancy through an election process. The timing of Richard’s resignation allows us to fill the seat at the general election in November rather than being required to conduct a special election.
This election item will be to fill the remainder of Richard’s term. As the election is conducted, there will be two years remaining for the seat.
With the vacancy, the ROCORI District will have four open seats. Three of the seats will be filled for the four-year terms. One of the seats will complete a two-year term.
Although it is early for any of the current three members to make a decision to run again, it is not too early to encourage other community members to begin thinking about possible service as a school board member. We know, for sure, that there will be at least one seat without an incumbent candidate even if all three board members choose to file.
To qualify for election to the local school board a candidate must meet the following criteria. A candidate must be at least 21 years old, an eligible voter, a district resident for at least 30 days (M.S. 204B.06, Subd. 1), and not a convicted sex offender (M.S. 205A.06, Subd. 1b).
According to Minnesota statute, school board members are elected to 4-year terms and take office the first Monday in January (M.S. 123B.09, Subd. 1). As noted, elections in ROCORI take place in even numbered years with terms of service beginning in January of the odd numbered years.
Formal notifications regarding the election will be posted in July to outline the election and filing procedures. The filing period, according to Minnesota statute, runs from August 2 through the end of the business day on August 16. The filing fee for the election is $2.
Absentee ballots for the election must be made available on September 23. This applies to all positions and questions on the ballot which means that Stearns County will handle all absentee ballot issues.
Election day for the school board and all the other offices on the ballot is November 8, 2016. Voting hours across the state are 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
NOTES FROM MSBA
The Minnesota School Board Association suggests that “the decision to run for your local school board is one to which much thought and consideration must be given. Serving as a board member is one of the most important responsibilities that a citizen can undertake.
“If elected, the educational standards which you, together with your fellow board members, establish will affect the future of the students, the community, and society. Being a board member is a complex and varied position, and often is frustrating as you struggle long hours with difficult choices. However, it is also rewarding, as you watch students succeed and go on to lead productive lives as the result of educational opportunities you helped to create.”
The Minnesota School Boards Association is pleased to provide the general public with guides and information about public school governance. Information about serving as a school board member is available on the MSBA website.
Additional information can be gained by talking with local school board members, attending school board meetings, contacting the ROCORI District Office, and reviewing information available on the district website.
We know, with the vacancy created by the resignation, that we will need at least one new candidate to consider running for the school board. The time to begin considering the opening is now—before the filing period is open!