Keep Party Politics Out of School Board Elections!
House Bill 920 (Baker) would move school board member elections to November. MSBA opposes this bill for the following reasons:
This bill will encourage party politics in school board elections.
The April elections are nonpartisan, which means that candidates are not required to belong to or affiliate with a particular political party. This leaves school board candidates free to focus on the needs of the students and the community rather than political party agendas.
Partisan elections are in November and ballot issues tend to focus on candidates and issues aligned with specific political parties. While more people may vote in a November election, many voters do so because the focus is on party politics and big stakes elections. MSBA is concerned that by moving the election it will be easier for the education agendas of political parties, or persons or organizations funding these parties, to paint school board candidates as a “liberal” or a “conservative.” Likewise, MSBA is concerned that to get attention and votes in a crowded election candidates will want to run under the support of a political party. MSBA strongly believes that the focus in school board elections should always be on the students, not political parties.
Campaigning for school board will be more expensive.
In November, political parties pour funds into local, state and federal elections. This means a school board candidate must campaign to be noticed. Signs, fliers, newspaper ads and radio advertisements cost money. Many school board candidates are not able or willing to raise large amounts of money for a school board election. This will give an advantage to candidates funded by a political party or individuals or organizations with an agenda. Public schools should be governed by volunteer community members without a political agenda.
Voters will be less informed about school district issues.
Many school board candidates will not be able to compete with the massive budgets of larger and better funded races for the attention of the constituents. Voters may not even be aware there is a school board election or understand the positions of individual school board candidates. School district governance is too important to families and communities in this state to use a system that results in a less-informed electorate.
Candidate filing will occur in summer months.
If school board elections are moved to November, then candidate filing will be held over the summer, in July and August when many districts are closed and school communications have stopped. This will make it more difficult to advertise candidate filing and recruit quality candidates for school board.
MSBA Advocacy Position - Elections
MSBA believes that school board elections should be held on the Municipal Election Day and remain nonpartisan so the school board members may focus solely on what is best for the students and the school district and are not distracted by partisan politics.