Guidance for those considering a run for the School Board: What to expect when you make the decision to do your part.
Interest in Being a Board of Education Member
Thank you for your potential interest in serving as a board member on the RCS Board of Education. Although the legal requirements for becoming a board member in New York State are not difficult, possessing the characteristics that make someone a functional and productive member of a legislative body is very important. According to the New York State School Boards Association, the following attributes are helpful:
- Effective Communicator: You can describe what you want and describe what others want; you are a good listener.
- Consensus Builder: You are capable of working toward decisions that all can support and are willing to compromise to achieve that goal.
- Community Participant: You enjoy meeting a variety of people; you can identify the community’s key communicators and reach out to fellow citizens.
- Decision Maker: You know your own as well as others’ decision-making styles and can support group decision making, including supporting the will of the board when you personally disagree with the outcome.
- Information Processor: You can organize priorities and schedules to handle large quantities of verbal and written information.
- Leader: You are willing to take risks and be supportive of board colleagues, district staff, and the community.
- Team Player: You help promote the board’s vision and goals.
Running for the Board
Requirements to Run
School board members receive no pay for service. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, qualified voters in the district, and be able to read and write. They must be residents of their district continuously for one year before the election. They cannot be employed by the board on which they serve nor live in the same household with a family member who is also a member of the same school board. State law requires school board and budget elections to be held on the third Tuesday in May. In order to declare candidacy, a nomination petition provided by the district clerk of the school district must be submitted.
Procedures for Filing Nominating Petitions
Candidates must submit a nominating petition to the school district clerk. The petition must be signed by at least 25 qualified district voters or 2 percent of the number of those who voted in the previous annual election, whichever number is greater. The district clerk calculates this number. The petition must include the candidate’s name and residence, and the vacancy in question. For more information, please contact the district clerk at 518-756-5200, ext. 6000.
Meet the Candidates
The district annually hosts a Meet the Candidates evening. Candidates for the board of education are invited to sit in a panel format and respond to a series of questions from a moderator. This is an excellent opportunity for candidates to interact with the public on a wide range of issues.
Per education law, board candidates must file a statement with both the district clerk and the Commission of Education if their campaign expenditures exceed $500. If less than $500, the statement must be submitted only to the clerk. If the expenses exceed $500, a detailed listing of expenses shall be furnished to both the clerk and Commission of Education. Regardless of campaign expenditure amount, a preliminary statement must be filed with the clerk at least ten days before the election and a final statement no more than twenty days after the date of election.
Term of Office
The term of office is three years, beginning July 1 and ending June 30. Board members run at-large. That is, there is no specific geographical representation; board members represent the entire district population. There are normally three seats open annually, however in the event of a special election to fill a vacancy, there could be more. In the event of a special election to fill a fourth seat, the candidate gaining the fourth-most votes immediately becomes a member of the board and is sworn in at the next meeting. Those receiving first, second, and third-most votes are sworn in at the organizational meeting in the beginning of July. Any sitting board member temporarily filling the vacant seat loses the seat on election day. In the unlikely event of there being five open seats (two vacant), or more, similar rules apply.
All newly elected board members are required to participate in a six-hour fiscal oversight training workshop and a Chapter 388 Mandatory Training. Board members usually have the option of attending a full-day, two part-days, or participating online. RCS has had success with the New York State School Boards Association training program.
The Board of Education usually meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. in the high school library. During late February and most of March, board meetings may become more frequent due to the budget development for the next fiscal year. Over the summer months, the meeting schedule is sometimes reduced and the starting times vary. Consistent attendance is strongly encouraged for board members.
Preparation for Board Meetings
On the Friday prior to each board meeting, board members receive access to the agenda and supporting materials. Once known as the “board packet” (since it was delivered in packet form) the term is outdated since the board went paperless in September 2011. Agenda and supporting materials is hosted on BoardDocs, a contractor the district uses to host files both for Board viewing and for public access. You can access BoardDocs through the NERIC website.
Typical Board Meeting Agenda
Board meeting agendas are collaboratively developed in advance between the superintendent of schools and the president and vice president of the board. Meeting agenda items typically include:
- Approval of minutes from previous meeting(s)
- Special presentations and/or recognitions
- Superintendent’s report
- Public comment
- Board discussion and reports
- Policy review
- Special education recommendations
- Personnel actions
- Business and finance review
- Public comment
- Executive session (if necessary)
Superintendent of Schools
The superintendent of schools is appointed by the BOE and serves a specific contractual term of between three and five years. This position serves as the chief executive officer of the district and manages its day-to-day activities. The superintendent works closely with the board in implementing and supporting board policy and long-term goals.
The business administrator is appointed by the superintendent, usually with input from the board. Historically, the business administrator has also acted as the district clerk, a position appointed annually by the board. The business administrator is the main developer of the annual budget, but also oversees personnel and union-relation issues.
Board of Education Policy
The district is guided by a comprehensive set of policies (essentially local laws) known as board of education policy. These policies range from providing guidance on student residency to prevention of harassment in schools. Many are required by state or federal law. Newly developed policies require two readings prior to final approval (with the second reading counting as approval).
The superintendent, where appropriate, develops administrative regulations to implement board policies. These regulations are specific steps or procedures to enforce and support board policy.
For More Information
Anyone interested in running for the board of education is encouraged to contact board members or the Superintendent for more information. The superintendent can be reached at (518) 756-5200, extension 6003.
More information can be found on the New York State School Boards Association website (nyssba.org).