Election changes make sense

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This will be the last year that school board elections will be held in Iowa on an even numbered year. It is also the last year that board members will be elected to three-year terms.

Beginning in 2009, elections will be held on odd years for four-year terms. Those who were elected in 2007 for three-year terms will have terms either shortened a year or lengthened a year in order to have term expirations be as evenly divided as possible between the two election dates within a four-year period.

For those boards with five members, three terms will expire on one of the election dates and two terms will expire on the other. For boards with seven members, the division will be four and three. The vast majority of school boards in the state have five members. In this area, only the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn District has seven members.

Under the system of three-year terms, elections were held every year, with one term only expiring once every three years and two terms expiring each of the other two years in a three-year period.

The Iowa Association of School Boards opposed the change. The reason for the opposition primarily resulted from the fact that on some years, a majority of seats could be up for election. This could possibly result in a majority of the board being new to the position.

With the present system, only two members would be new at one time, the exception would be a year in which an unexpired term resulting from a resignation is filled by special election.

We understand the IASB concern but still believe the change was a good idea.

Having a majority of board members being new to the position would not be ideal but we do not believe this would pose a serious problem. It is a situation that could occur on county boards or city councils under the present method of electing officials to those bodies.

The few thousands of dollars that the change in law saves in each district every other year does not represent a large amount relative to the total school budget of a district but it is large enough to outweigh the theoretical problems resulting from having a majority of members being rookies.