Am I Qualified to Serve on my Local Board of Education?

Every school district in Kansas is governed by a locally-elected board of education. In fact, school board members as a whole comprise the largest body of elected officials in our country. The qualifications for effective service as a board member are many, even though the actual legal requirements are few!

School board members must be registered voters in the school district and cannot be an employee of the board on which they are a member. If board members are elected from certain areas of the district rather than at-large, they must live in the area of the district from which they are seeking office. School board members serve staggered four-year terms, so the entire board is not up for election at the same time.

School board elections are held the first Tuesday in November of each odd-numbered year. A primary election must be conducted if more than three people file for the same school board position. Newly elected board members take office the second Monday in January following the election.

The key to success!

To accomplish the mission and goals of the school district, it is very important for you to work as a team member and cooperate with other board members. Decision-making authority is vested in the board of education, not in individual members.

The locally-elected school board is entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining, developing and operating local schools. School board members make important decisions with long-lasting implications for their community and its citizens. They establish a vision for the public education system in their community, are responsible for hiring and evaluating the superintendent of schools, adopt policies and monitor district finances, among other responsibilities.

A board member should:

  • have a broad background of experience and knowledge and a sincere desire to serve the community;
  • be visionary, able to understand the forces of societal change and plan for the future;
  • be tolerant and without prejudice, respecting diverse points of view;
  • understand education today is complex and simplistic approaches will not meet today’s challenges;
  • be willing to invest the time and energy required for meetings, phone calls, conversations, visits to schools, professional development seminars and workshops; 
  • be responsive to human needs of individuals and groups;
  • be willing to be part of a team, supporting group decisions;
  • listen for real consensus and not confuse a few vocal constituents with a majority feeling;
  • remember the responsibility is to all the children in the state, not solely to those in the local district; and
  • learn and grow as you become more aware of your responsibilities.