December 6, 2023

The president received’t be elected this yr, nor will the governor. Which means, historically, that fewer folks will head to the polls in Virginia this November. Nevertheless, there’s an necessary election voters in sure areas will miss out on in the event that they select to forgo a visit to the polls: In some divisions, it’s time to elect new college board members. 

College board members play an important position in not solely their divisions, however of their communities as a complete. Just like a state delegate or senator, residents of a selected locality or district vote for the college board candidate that finest represents their pursuits and values.

Members of the college board usually make selections about curriculum (together with which books are included at school libraries or on studying lists), have a say in division price range allocations, and may decide disciplinary actions. These selections affect what college students study at college, how their requirements and actions are funded, and extra.

College Board Members and E-book Bans

Take a second to recall the assorted e-book bans that befell over the previous couple of years all through the commonwealth. In Madison County, Spotsylvania County, and a number of others, that call got here down to a faculty board vote.

Over the summer time, the Hanover County College Board took their attain a step additional. The native college board voted in favor of a brand new e-book ban coverage, granting itself full authority on whether or not or to not ban a e-book. Weeks previous to the vote, the college board had already acquired an inventory of round 100 books to contemplate eradicating from college libraries. 

Choices about books additionally transcend these discovered at school libraries. Final yr, the Williamsburg-James Metropolis County College Board selected to forgo getting a brand new Superior Placement (AP) US authorities and politics textbook, Authorities in America: Individuals, Politics, and Coverage

Some group members expressed concern over the textbook, alleging Important Race Principle content material and indicating distaste over the picture of a protest displayed on the quilt. The idea, college-level content material which explains how race and racism have an effect on folks’s lives, already isn’t taught in public faculties.

On the time, the division had not up to date some textbooks for a minimum of 12 years.

College Board Members Assist Allocate Funding

Bear in mind the $201 million college funding error that occurred this spring? Within the month it took for state legislators to patch the important thing calculation mistake within the Youngkin administration’s training price range, college boards throughout the commonwealth scrambled to deal with the preliminary shortfall. That’s as a result of with regards to allocating the division’s price range, college boards play a key position.

The Virginia Division of Schooling (VDOE) notes that the commonwealth’s public faculties are financed by means of a mix of native, state, and federal funds, in addition to personal sector contributions. College boards in Virginia take their proposed budgets to native governing our bodies, like county board of supervisors and metropolis councils, for closing approval.

Issues like new classroom supplies, personnel prices, services upkeep, and even extracurricular actions undergo price range negotiations on the division degree. The school-issued laptop computer your youngster makes use of? That was seemingly a college board vote. The upgrades to scoreboards, sports activities fields, and soccer security tools in Newport Information? Yep, the college board voted in favor of that. That’s why state price range finalizations play such an important position in serving to native college programs financially plan.

 Listening to Considerations and Settling Disputes 

When’s the final time you bought to precise your emotions on to a panel of elected officers? At college board conferences throughout the commonwealth, folks have an opportunity to do exactly that—oftentimes, in hope of effecting change. 

Take the January 2021 college board assembly in Pittsylvania County, for instance. Academics and training consultants took turns voicing their considerations over a wide range of subjects together with COVID-19 insurance policies, burnout, and benchmarks. Nevertheless, the college board didn’t touch upon the considerations throughout the assembly.

The board for Richmond Public Colleges had a strong dialogue relating to collective bargaining, which many academics, workers, and group members spoke in favor of within the 2021-22 college yr. In the end, the board voted to present academics the ability to barter.

College boards even have the tough activity of deciding whether or not or to not expel college students from college. In Richmond, the college board selected to overturn 92% of the division’s expulsion circumstances heard between January and December of 2022. Out of the 46 complete circumstances, the college board solely selected to expel 4 college students (to study extra about expulsion charges throughout the commonwealth, click on right here). 

Your Vote Issues

Whereas this yr could not give attention to bigger-ticket races, it’s necessary to not overlook the importance of the college board elections in your group.

Your vote can assist form the tutorial panorama in your division, so make sure to examine up in your native candidates earlier than hitting the poll field.

And don’t overlook—all 140 state Home and Senate seats are up for grabs in November, too. Right here’s your cheat sheet on candidates in among the most contested localities.