What is a school board?
A school board is a legislative body of citizens called school directors, who are elected locally by their fellow citizens and who serve as the governing body of each public school district. School districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are governmental units considered “political subdivisions.” Because school districts are created by statute, they and their governing bodies are regarded as “creatures of the General Assembly” (our state legislature), and as such they function in a sense as agents of the Commonwealth. Each board consists of nine members who serve four-year terms of office. Unlike most other elected officials, school directors receive no compensation for their work even though the position can require them to dedicate many hours to it.
How to become a candidate
To become a school board candidate, you must begin by filing a nominating petition signed by at least 10 qualified voters of the school district who are registered members of the political party for which nomination is sought. If the candidate is running for a regional seat in a school district with a regional or combined regional and at-large election plan, the signer must also be resident of that region of the school district. In other words, a petition signature is valid only if the signer would be eligible to vote for that candidate in the primary based on residence and party for which registered. However, if the school district encompasses an entire city or county, the minimum number of required signatures for an at-large seat will be 100 or even higher depending on the class of city or county. It is recommended that aspiring candidates always confirm the number of signatures required with the county board of elections.
Circulators of nominating petitions must be registered members of the political party for which nomination is sought. Signers cannot sign the petitions of more than one candidate for any office unless more than one candidate can be elected to that office (such as school director), in which case a voter can sign only as many candidate petitions as the number of votes that a single voter could cast for that office.
The Election Code allows candidates for the office of school director to “cross file” for nomination in a primary election; that is, to seek the nomination of more than one major political party. To cross file, a separate petition must be circulated for each party by a registered member of that party, and the same minimum number of signatures is required for each party’s petition. If successful in the primary, the cross filing candidate will appear on the ballot for the November municipal election as the candidate for each party whose primary nomination the candidate won.
Primaries in municipal election years usually are held on the third Tuesday in May. Petitions may be circulated for signature only during a three-week period that begins on the thirteenth Tuesday before the primary (usually around mid-February) and ends on the tenth Tuesday before the primary (usually early March). The tenth prior Tuesday also is the filing deadline for nominating petitions. No fee is charged for filing a school board nominating petition.
Under Pennsylvania’s “Public Official and Employee Ethics Act,” each candidate for the office of school director must file a statement of financial interest for the preceding calendar year with the school board secretary of the school district. A copy of the statement also must be attached to the nomination petition filed with the county board of elections.
It is important to remember that the Ethics Act requires annual filing of such forms by all school directors no later than May 1 of each year, whether or not running for re-election, but those who are running for re-election must file earlier in election years no later than the deadline for filing nominating petitions. A candidate’s failure to file with BOTH the board of elections AND the school board secretary by that deadline could result in the nominating petition being invalidated. The school district must maintain statements of financial interest on file and make them available for public inspection for at least five years.
Pennsylvania’s “Campaign Expense Reporting Law,” also requires candidates to file campaign finance reports listing campaign expenditures and contributions received, including the names and addresses of persons who contribute $50 or more to the campaign. A pre-election report must be filed with the county board of elections no later than the second Friday prior to the primary election. A post-election report must be filed no later than 30 days after the election. As an exception, the law permits local candidates who are not aided by political committees and who do not intend to receive or expend more than $250 in a reporting period to file an affidavit to that effect with their nomination petitions, which then excuses them from filing reports, although they still must keep records of expenses and contributions. In the event that expenditures or contributions exceed $250 anyway, a report then must be filed.
Prior to each election year, the Commonwealth’s Department of State Bureau of Elections distributes a complete election calendar with specific dates and other legal requirements to all county offices. Forms for nominating petitions, statements of financial interest, campaign finance reports and other information about these requirements can be obtained from the county board of elections and other municipal offices.
Interested individuals must be a resident of the school district for one year or longer, and a resident of Exeter Township or the Borough of St. Lawrence.
Candidates must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and possess an interest in serving the needs of the children and citizens of the school district. Interested individuals will submit a resume or letter of interest which includes qualifications, and background information. Information about school board vancancies are posted on the front page of the District website. More information about the local process of running for school board are available on the School Board's BoardDocs site