Bill would change school board leadership elections

A bill introduced in the Kansas Senate would shift the date for school boards to elect officers and set meetings for the year from July to January, but would also allow boards to defer those actions to a later meeting during the year. 

SB 7 was introduced by Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, and referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Elections and Local Government. 

When the Kansas Legislature changed local elections from April to November of odd-numbered years, it provided that school board members would take office on the second Monday of the following January rather than the first of July. However, it did not change the “organizational meeting” date from the first regularly scheduled meeting in July. 

As a result, some board presidents and vice presidents left their board and had to be replaced in the middle of their terms, either because they did not seek reelection or were defeated. 

KASB discussed this issue at regional meetings this fall and found no consensus. Some board members felt the election for board president and vice president should be held as soon as new members take office, and that board leadership offices should follow the terms of board members. Others felt it was beneficial for new members to serve six months and gain experience before voting on officers. 

As introduced, SB 7 would allow both options. The bill says, “At the first meeting of the board of education on or after the second Monday in January of each year, or at a later meeting during that calendar year if so determined by the board at the first meeting, the board shall elect a president and vice-president, both of whom shall be members of the board.” 

The KASB Delegate Assembly did not take a position on this issue, but the bill is designed to allow board local control over officer elections, which received considerable support in regional meeting discussions. 

Local boards are encouraged to discuss this issue and share thoughts with the KASB advocacy staff and local legislators, and consider submitting oral or written testimony when hearings are held.

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