Commentary: League urges people to run for Delaware school boards

Are you concerned about the quality of our local public schools? Would you like to take part in shaping educational policy and in making decisions that assure all children in your community have the educational opportunities that they deserve? If so, now is the time to consider running for your local school board.

Eleven seats are open for election in Sussex County this spring: three in the Cape Henlopen School District, four in the Indian River District, and one each in the Delmar, Laurel, Seaford, and Woodbridge districts. The deadline for filing as a candidate is March 1, and elections are held on May 14. As of this writing, only three candidates have stepped up to the plate.

School board elections are nonpartisan, and the best qualifications for candidates are a belief in the importance of public education, a desire to serve the community, and a commitment to providing the best education possible for the children in your district.

While each local board has its own mission statement, all center on providing students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to realize their potentials and to become responsible citizens. A school board’s responsibilities generally include

• Setting the vision and goals for the school district

• Establishing policies and priorities to achieve set goals

• Setting student performance standards

• Adopting school budgets

• Approving curriculum

• Evaluating and/or hiring the superintendent

• Approving the school calendar

• Selecting transportation systems

• Approving contracts with outside vendors

• Managing collective bargaining for district employees

As a public watchdog, not only does the board establish direction and goals for the school district, but members also ensure that those goals are kept on track. School board election campaigns can bring important issues to the the public’s attention, and voters clearly have direct influence on local election results.

This spring the League of Women Voters will enable all school board candidates in Sussex County to publicize their background information and views on local educational issues on VOTE411.org, a website that is easily accessible to the general public.

Filing papers for candidates are available at https://elections.delaware.gov/pubs, and helpful tips for candidates can be found at RunningForSchoolBoard.info.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Martha Redmond is president of the League of Women Voters of Sussex County.

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