Not Enough School Board Candidates

Only one candidate has declared for the Charlottesville school board election, Alyson Smith reports for NBC-29, leaving three seats without a candidate. Three of the incumbents have bowed out rather than run for their first election. Last year was the first school board election, and we had six candidate for three seats. It’s not clear whether disinterest this time around is a problem of it seeming so far off from November that would-be candidates aren’t even thinking about it, or if there just aren’t people willing to go through the rigors of an election for something as minor as school board.

The filing deadline is June 12. If there aren’t enough candidates, the seats will be filled by judicial appointment pending a special election to fill them properly.

9 thoughts on “Not Enough School Board Candidates”

  1. So does this mean that the job is so heinously bad that nobody wants it, or that people who were perfectly happy being appointed (and thus not required to answer to the electorate) are not willing to stand up to voter scrutiny? I’ve never heard of a school board post being something minor, and it seems that other jurisdictions have no problem finding people willing to run for or even stand for election.

    This may have been one of Schilling’s “pet causes,” but apparently it was a cause that had plenty of Democratic support. It’s probably worth noting that much of the support came after the appointed school board hired Scotti Griffin and the public realized said school board wasn’t accountable to the public (i.e. voters). The public wanted the school board to represent and be accountable to them, not to other politicians.

  2. FYI, “Mr. Schilling’s pet cause” was co-sponsored by a Democratic activist and approved by a substantial majority of voters.

    But I’m guessing that you already knew that.

  3. This is why I was opposed to having an elected school board in Charlottesville. It’s too small a city and the number of competant people interested in going through the meatgrinder of running for public office will not be consistently high enough to ensure a good board.

    We can now see how very easy it would be to get right up to the deadline and at the last minute the only person who files is some raving lunatic who takes a break from panhandling long enough to fill out the paperwork. This person will be in charge of tens of millions of dollars of public funds.

    Maybe some day Charlottesville will be large enough for this to work well. But not yet. We should have kept the school board as a body appointed by the elected council. I don’t even see why the school board should be any different than any other board. Let’s have elections for the Planning Commission! And the Jail Board! And all of the 5 million other city boards! Everyone’s a winner!

  4. In the article, they suggest that members of the school board are able to do good things for the school system. What are the powers of the school board? I’ve had a few ideas about the school system rolling around for a while, but I don’t intend to be a parent any time soon so feel awkward about expressing my opinion.

  5. Lyle,
    You don’t need to have to have children to be concerned about the state of education. Everyone, whether they have children or not, pays for and benefits from having an educated public.

    I think that two of the most important things that the school board does are to approve the budget and hire the superintendent.

    The school board is not the PTA. If you feel strongly and think you’re qualified, then run. I do think that some will criticize a non-parent for running so prepare yourself for that.

  6. I agree with Kevin. It would be healthy to have community members who don’t have kids on the School Board. Run, Lyle, run!

    In addition to hiring the superintendent and approving the budget (which happens once a year in the case of the budget, and lately about once a year in the case of the superintendent…) add this very important job: the School Board sets policy for the division. Sounds dry, but this is a key function. Disciplinary policy, for example. In the past the CCS Board has been too lenient on violent or habitually disruptive students. The result has been a very difficult learning environment for teachers and students, particularly at Buford and CHS. Lately I was talking to a highly regarded, thoughtful, well placed school employee at CHS who told me that most of the trouble at the high school is caused by about 30 students (out of more than 1300 students). In this person’s opinion, those 30 students have a direct, negative impact the education–and lives–of another 200 students. (These kids are likely many of the those who vanish from our classrooms between 9th and 12th grade: we lose about 100 students per class of 300.)

    We need a better alternative programs for violent and habitually disruptive students NOW; we need higher behavior standards for everyone, and we need recognition from the policy makers (i.e. the School Board) that children who harm others or regularly disrupt classroom instruction for others need a different learning environment–for themselves and for the education of their classmates.

  7. It is fine to have some parents on the schoolboard but I think that having enough time to devote to the issues is much more important. I know that, as a parent, my focus is pretty narrow and so I know a little about my child’s school but not that much about the division as a whole. I think the ability to actually interact with and listen to teachers, as opposed to just administrators who are several layers away from real life in the classroom, is very important for school board members.

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