Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 31, 2014

Serving on school board could be great experience

By Diane Vance | Aug 23, 2013

I spend too much time on Facebook some evenings.

I’m not one to post very often, telling others what I am doing, but I see posts from various pages and share those that strike a chord with me. Of course, it’s much easier to click a “like” or “share” button than actually go out and do something; I am guilty of that, I admit.

Facebook has been a fertile ground of quotes and ideas. I particularly like:

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in,” which is attributed as a Greek proverb.

This quote is a launching pad to encourage myself and others to get out and do something.

Fairfield Community School District has an opportunity for residents to volunteer throughout the next 12 months.

Iowa school board elections are Sept. 10 and Fairfield has three of its seven school board seats up for election.

Elections are set so half the board – three people one year, four people the next election – happen in different cycles to lend some continuity and experience to school boards. Elections are every other year. Candidates filing for election are elected to serve four years.

The deadline to file as a candidate and have your name on the Sept. 10 ballot has already passed. One incumbent, Fairfield school board president Jennifer Anderson, filed to re-run.

Two incumbents, Bob Waugh and Jeri Kunkle, announced prior to the filing deadline they would step down from serving on school board.

Which leaves two seats up for grabs. Here’s where a volunteer spirit, passion for education and the future are needed.

When no candidates file for an Iowa school board, write-in candidates can be elected to serve a full four year term.

To qualify, you must be a resident of the school district, at least 18 years old and eligible to register to vote.

Yes, it can be a tough job. No pay, school board meetings once or twice a month on Monday evenings and accountability to the community, taxpayers, teachers and students.

On the other hand, as a school board member, you have an opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the school district, from approving food vendors to evaluating the superintendent.

As a school board member, you can attend training provided by the state and district; attend the state convention and share ideas with board members from around Iowa and vote on priorities to present to the state Legislature.

You can be as involved as you want in visiting classrooms, watching students work on projects, perform presentations and listen to seniors talk about their years of study – what worked, what didn’t, what should be changed or brought in new during senior exit interviews.

Of course, any community member also is welcome to be involved in the schools in the same way, but as a board member, you are reminded of the opportunities and the urgency of the difference one person can make.

As a school board member, you will hear reports from the principals, teachers and administrators and gain a deeper appreciation of the work and planning that goes into education.

And in my opinion, having covered the Fairfield school board meetings for nearly two years, I think you will be working with some of the finest district employees.

So, if you are interested in helping shape the future of your community, you can let people know you want to be a write-in candidate on the Sept. 10 ballot. Get the word out, so people know who you are and know how to spell your name correctly when they go to the polls.

If no write-in candidates accept the election results, two people will be appointed until the next school election.

The Iowa Association of School Boards has much more information on its website at www.is-sb.org, or talk with a current or past school board member or administrators.

The IASB says: “Serving on a school board is a crucial aspect of grassroots democracy. The school board is a uniquely American institution that represents a continuing commitment to local citizen decision-making in education.

Experienced board members all across Iowa say that the rewards of service lie in meeting the needs of children and their communities.”

Fairfield school board members serving until September 2015 include Jerry Nelson, Jeremy Miller, Rich Metcalf and Amy Miller.

 

– Diane Vance is a Ledger staff writer.

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