The Pratt USD 382 Board of Education approved a resolution Monday evening calling on legislators to pass no laws changing the election cycle of boards of education and to pass no law changing the nonpartisan status of local boards of education.
The Kansas Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, chaired by Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. John) plans to review a proposal this week to change election of school board members from April of odd-numbered years to November of even-numbered years, the same schedule as national and statewide elections.
The proposal is a modified version of a proposal from the Kansas Republican Party that would make elections partisan.
The most concerning part of SB 211 is that it would take power away from local boards if a member resigns, Superintendent Suzan Patton said. Instead of the board selecting a replacement, the responsibility would go to the local election official.
The House also has a bill, and a compromise might look entirely different from what either chamber is discussing, Patton said, but she felt that the board should go on record as opposed to any change.
A schedule change would have board members taking office in January, in the middle of the year, and just prior to the time when boards begin discussing administrator evaluations and contract extensions, teacher negotiations and preparing budgets.
Even if board member elections remain nonpartisan, Patton is concerned that November election would reduce the focus on BOE candidates as they compete for attention with local, state and national candidates.
Resolution 13/14-16, adopted by unanimous vote, states, “the current election cycle for electing local public education board members has and will continue to serve the children of Kansas well.”
Proponents of the Senate bill believe eliminating the April elections, which typically bring a low voter turnout for BOE and city commission or council races, would save money for counties.