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Voices of Palos-Orland: Good candidates urged to run for school board

The next election for the District 128 Board of Education will be held in April, 2015. The process to get on the ballot will start in late September.

The Palos Heights School District 128 Board of Education governs one of the largest agencies in our community and is responsible for numerous important functions. The Board sets policies and standards affecting the future of every child in the district.

Three seats on the seven-member Board of Education will be filled at the April, 2015 election. All of the seats are full, four-year terms, expiring in April, 2019.

I am writing to urge District 128 residents to consider running for these important positions. As a parent in this district, I would be thrilled to see a number of people run — so that we have many qualified, committed candidates to choose from. I also think that it would be great to see candidates from a variety of backgrounds — finance, accounting, education, law, social work, stay at home parents, special education, marketing, business, etc. I believe that diversity on the Board is critical since it has such broad responsibilities.

To be eligible to serve, a school board member must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age, a registered voter, and a resident of Illinois & of District 128 for at least one year. The school board election is nonpartisan and board candidates do not run under political party affiliation.

What exactly does the Board do? According to the IASB’s guide “Your School Board & You”: “The ultimate responsibility for education rests with the state of Illinois. The state has seen fit to delegate much of that responsibility to the local school board. School boards — although elected locally — are state agencies carrying out a state function. While school boards are granted wide latitude in governing their schools, they are subject to numerous state laws and regulations. Perhaps the single most important job of a school board is to employ a superintendent and to hold him or her responsible for managing the schools in accordance with state law and the school board’s policies. The board also should set educational goals for the schools — based on state laws and community values — and see that the superintendent and the total staff vigorously pursue those goals.”

The types of topics that I have observed the Board discussing at board meetings and/or read about in meeting minutes include: The district budget, finances, and expenses. State mandated initiatives (like Common Core) and how they are being implemented at the schools. Test results (MAP, ISAT). Employee / personnel issues (staffing needs, contracts, retirement, FMLA, etc). Enrollment and registration. Managing and improving district property, facilities, and other resources. Litigation. Student services (such as bus services). District initiatives (such as updating our report cards). District programs (such as when the district decided to offer all-day kindergarten). District audits. Student and teacher recognition. The school calendar. ……According to the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), the average board member spends 10 to 20 hours a month on board work. Some less, some more. District 128 has a monthly Board meeting that is typically held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.

The next two Board meetings are Wednesday, Aug. 13, and Wednesday, Sept. 17. Both meetings are at 7 p.m. at the district offices. If you haven’t been to a meeting before, please come to see what they’re all about. Agendas and minutes from previous board meetings can be found on the district website at www.palos128.org. Click on the School Board tab and then on Board Meeting Agendas and Minutes.

The Illinois Association of School Boards website also has a lot of great information: www.iasb.com.

I am grateful to live in such a wonderful school district. And I think that it is so important that we participate in our community wherever and however we can. Being on the school board probably isn’t for everyone. But those of you that would be a good fit, I hope that you’ll consider it. 

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