Becoming a Board Member

Local school boards are a uniquely American institution and at the heart of this country's public education system. A board's existence is based on the belief that lay control of public education makes schools flexible and responsive to the needs of the local community.


School board members are elected by voters within the school district. School board elections are part of the general election in even-numbered years.

Download the 2016 School Board Service Booklet

Download the 2016 School Board Service Booklet

The Arizona School Boards Association is committed to quality leadership and advocacy for children in public schools. As such, we are dedicated to supporting the efforts of potential and future school board governing members.

To determine whether being a school board member is right for you, you’ll want to understand the duties and responsibilities of the position and the legal requirements for running for and holding office, and the process for running for election. You’ll also want to consider the personal attributes needed to be an effective board member, including review the code of ethics by which you must abide by once elected.

New School Board Member Video

School Board Service Webinars

Get training at a time and location that’s convenient for you with Webinars from ASBA Leadership Team Services.Cdl9bJpWEAEqpDl

This workshop will help individuals interested in running for their local school board understand what is involved in being elected to and serving on the local school board. Hear from three diverse school board members about their own experiences and where to find information about being a candidate.

Click on the dates below to register for these free webinars:

Request an ASBA Representative to Present

Your organization or community group can learn more about school board service and how to become a board member by requesting an ASBA representative to speak at your event or meeting. Click here to submit your request.

Arizona School Board Initiative Encourages People To Get Involved

Listen to the KJZZ Interview

Contact Information for County School Superintendents

To begin the process of running for election as a school board member, contact your county superintendent of schools.

CountyAddressPhoneWebsite
Apache County P.O. Box 548
75 N. 1st West
St. Johns, AZ 85936
(928) 337-7539 schools.apachecounty.net
Cochise County 100 Clawson Ave., 3rd FL.
Bisbee, AZ 85603
(520) 432-8950 cochise.az.gov/schools/home
Coconino County 2384 N. Steves Blvd.
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
(928) 679-8070 ccesa.az.gov
Gila County 1400 E. Ash St.
Globe, AZ 85501
(928) 402-8784 gilacountyaz.gov/government/school_superintendent/index.php
Graham County 921 Thatcher Blvd.
Safford, AZ 85546
(928) 428-2880 graham.az.gov/school-superintendent/
Greenlee CountyP.O. Box 1595
253 Fifth St.
Clifton, AZ 85533
(928) 865-2822 co.greenlee.az.us/schools
La Paz County 1112 Joshua Ave., Ste. 205
Parker, AZ 85344
(928) 669-6183 lapazschools.org
Maricopa County 4041 N. Central Ave.,
Ste. 1200
Phoenix, AZ 85012
(602) 506-3866 education.maricopa.gov
Mohave County P.O. Box 7000
Kingman, AZ 86402
700 W. Beale St.
Kingman, AZ 86401
(928) 753-0747 mohavecounty.us/ContentPage.aspx?id=130
Navajo County P.O. Box 668
100 E. Code Talkers Dr.
S. Highway 77
Holbrook, AZ 86025
(928) 524-4204 navajocountyaz.gov/Departments/Superintendent-of-Schools
Pima County 200 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 724-8451 schools.pima.gov
Pinal County P.O. Box 769
75 N. Bailey St.
Florence, AZ 85132
(520) 866-6565 pinalesa.org
Santa Cruz County 2150 N. Congress Dr.
Nogales, AZ 85621
(520) 375-7940 co.santa-cruz.az.us/294/Superintendent-of-Schools
Yavapai County 2970 Centerpointe East Dr.
Prescott, AZ 86301
(928) 771-3326 ycesa.com
Yuma County 210 S. 1st Ave.
Yuma, AZ 85364
(928) 373-1006 yumasupt.org

YouTube Videos




Recorded Webinar: School Board Service in Arizona

Find out what it takes to serve on a local school board. The recorded webinar covers the rewards and challenges of board service, what school board members do (and what they don’t do), and eligibility and the basics of running for office. ASBA staff members provide answers to frequently asked questions about board service as well as respond to questions from webinar participants.



(Recorded March 26, 2014)

Duties

School board members are responsible for broad, futuristic thinking, minute analysis and decisive action in all areas that affect students and staff in their schools. Some roles and responsibilities are implicit. Others are specifically mandated (A.R.S. §15-341) or allowed (§15-342) by Arizona law. Everything board members do is focused on providing the best education possible for the children in their community.

Set the Direction
The governing board, with extensive involvement from the staff and community, is responsible for envisioning the future of the public schools in their community. After setting the vision and mission for the district, the governing board works collaboratively to establish strategic goals to move the organization toward the community’s vision for its schools.

Establish the Structure
Board policies and goals establish the structure and create the environment for ensuring that all students are served. The superintendent uses the structure established by the board to manage operations on a day-to-day basis. Although the superintendent may suggest changes to policies, only the board as a whole has the legal authority to adopt policy.

Provide Support
The board provides support to its organization by ensuring that resources are adequate and aligned to meet established goals. Support also is provided by recognizing and encouraging excellence throughout the organization.

Ensure Accountability
As the community’s representative in the local schools, the board is responsible for ensuring that the schools are well run – that resources are used wisely and that high standards for academic performance are set. The board as a whole needs to monitor performance to meet established goals – academic, financial and operational.

Advocate for Your Students
One of the board’s most important roles is to be the ambassador for public education in the community. As individuals, each board member can help communicate the ways in which their local schools are supporting student educational needs, parent and community aspirations, and state and federal standards. Together, the board also can demonstrate that an atmosphere of collaboration and respect is the most conducive environment for providing the best education for children in the community.

Abide by a Code of Ethics
A code of ethics for board members is included in the policies adopted by most school boards for their districts, and it is incumbent on individual board members to follow it.

Specific Duties
Specific duties of school boards may relate to employment, purchasing, budget preparation, students and policies. They may include:

  • Hiring and evaluating the district superintendent.
  • Providing guidance in the development of the budget to ensure funding needed to meet board established goals.
  • Approving the budget.
  • Monitoring the budget.
  • Setting salaries for employees.
  • Approving purchases.
  • Establishing and approving policies.
  • Approving curriculum materials.
  • Adopting the school calendar.
  • Reviewing regulations for compliance with policy.
  • Approving personnel actions based on the superintendent’s recommendation.
  • Closing or constructing schools.
  • Assessing board effectiveness.
  • Monitoring progress toward goals.

Mandatory duties of school boards are defined in A.R.S. §15-341. Discretionary powers are defined in A.R.S. §15-342.)

What School Board Members and Boards DON’T Do
School board members do not:

  • Implement policy; school boards make policy and superintendents carry it out.
  • Manage the day-to-day operations of the school district; school boards see to it that the district is managed by professionals.
  • Evaluate staff, other than the superintendent, nor do they become involved in employment interviews, other than those for superintendent.

Legal

Board members must:

  • Be elected by the voters in the district or be appointed by the county superintendent of schools.
  • Reside within the legal boundaries of the school district and have lived in the district for at least one year immediately preceding the day of election.
  • Be a registered voter.
  • Board members cannot be, or have a spouse who is, an employee of the district when assuming office or during the term of office.

Board members cannot serve simultaneously on more than one school district governing board.

Finally, a person who has an immediate family member sitting on a school district governing board and who has shared the same household of residence with that family member within four years prior to the election is ineligible to be a candidate for nomination or election to that governing board if the governing board is composed of five members, unless the immediate family member is serving in the last year of a term of office; persons related as immediate family who have the same household of residence within four years prior are also ineligible to be simultaneous candidates for nomination or election to the governing board of the same school district if the governing board is composed of five members.

The position is unpaid, though some expenses may be reimbursed.

School board members have no individual authority over school matters. The authority of a board member includes expressing an opinion and casting a vote as a part of the governing board in a board meeting.

Personal Attributes

Serving as a member of your local school board is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs you will ever undertake. It also is an enormous responsibility. As a school board member, the decisions you make will affect children and their parents, the livelihood of school system employees and the economic well-being of your community. Service to a board requires time, energy, a willingness to learn about issues affecting your schools, and a passion for a public education system committed to providing the best and most appropriate education for all children entrusted to its care.

Effective school board members share some common attributes. Before deciding to run for election to your local governing board, consider whether you possess the qualities that will enable you to best serve your community.

  • Have a conviction that public education is important.
  • Are committed to improving public education for all children in Arizona.
  • Possess a sincere desire to serve the community, rather than a desire for personal glory or to achieve a personal goal.
  • Have the ability to understand the forces of change in our society and foresee, to some extent, the shape of the future in order to plan wisely.
  • Have loyalty to the democratic process.
  • Have the courage to make difficult decisions, defend the philosophy and goals of the organization, and withstand criticism from people who hold opposing views.
  • Are able to accept the will of the majority and support a decision when it is made by the board.
  • Respect the diversity of perspectives and cultural backgrounds on the board and in the community, enabling them to serve with tolerance and without prejudice.
  • Have cooperative spirits, recognizing that success in achieving board goals and implementing ideas requires a team approach.
  • Can communicate well with others.
  • Are willing to invest the significant time and energy required by board service.
  • Are available to attend all board meetings and related board work.
  • Strive to be knowledgeable about policies and programs.
  • Have professional respect for district staff.
  • Are respected and involved in their communities.
  • Bring a broad base of knowledge and experience to the job, enabling them to vote with intelligence and confidence on complex issues such as finance, curriculum and student-employee-community relationships.
  • Know that the reputation of the entire school district is reflected in their behavior and attitude.
  • Understand the board’s roles and responsibilities.

Running for Election

School board elections are part of the general election in even-numbered years. Special elections to fill unanticipated vacancies occurring between regular elections may be called by the county superintendent of schools. (County school superintendents may also choose to appoint an individual to fill such a vacancy.) Primary elections do not pertain to the election of school board members.

To run for election to a seat on your local school board

  • Pick up an information packet from your county superintendent of schools.
  • File the $500 exemption or campaign committee organization statement with the county elections office before collecting signatures.
  • Collect signatures.
  • File signatures pages and forms with the county superintendent of schools.
  • Run your campaign.

The decision is made by the voters in your district. The names of school board candidates are printed in the non-partisan section of the ballot.

Eligibility to Run
Any registered voter in the State of Arizona who also is a resident of the school district in which he or she resides for at least one year immediately preceding the day of election is eligible to run for a position on the local school board.

A person who is employed, or whose spouse is employed, by a district can stand for election as a governing board member. However, if elected, the successful candidate and/or spouse must terminate employment with the district before taking office.

Board members cannot serve simultaneously on more than one school district governing board.

Finally, a person who has an immediate family member sitting on a school district governing board and who has shared the same household of residence with that family member within four years prior to the election is ineligible to be a candidate for nomination or election to that governing board if the governing board is composed of five members, unless the immediate family member is serving in the last year of a term of office; persons related as immediate family who have the same household of residence within four years prior are also ineligible to be simultaneous candidates for nomination or election to the governing board of the same school district if the governing board is composed of five members.

Term of Office
Election is for a four-year term, except for those positions filling a vacancy in office.

Nominating Petitions
Nominating petitions are required for those running for school board. Eligible persons desiring to run for the school board should

  1. Obtain nominating petition forms from the county superintendent of schools;
  2. Ask the county superintendent how many signatures of qualified electors residing in the school district are required;
  3. Obtain necessary signatures, being very careful to follow the legal requirements for valid signatures; and
  4. File the nominating petitions with the county superintendent of schools not later than 90 days prior to the election.

Date of Taking Office
Board members take office at the first organizational meeting of the school board, which must be held between the first and 15th day of January following the general election. The oath of office is administered at any time after receiving your certificate of election, and at least one day before commencement of the term of office.

Campaign Finance Reports
School board candidates who intend to receive or spend $500 or less in one election campaign are exempt from filing campaign finance reports if they file an exemption statement with the county elections office. Candidates who exceed the $500 threshold must register a political committee to serve as a campaign committee and file campaign finance reports that itemize receipts and expenditures, and identify persons who contribute $25 or more. Limitations exist on the amount that can be accepted from one individual contributor. Consult your county elections office for donation guidelines. Forms may be obtained from your county elections office or county school superintendent.

Financial Disclosure Statement
The detailed personal financial disclosure statement required by A.R.S. §38-542 is not required of governing board members.

Appointment

Occasionally school board members must leave their positions before they have completed their terms. In the case of a mid-term vacancy, the county superintendent of schools may appoint a new member to fill the position through the end of the term or the next election. Check with your county superintendent of schools for details regarding specific appointments.

FAQs

How often does a school board meet?
It varies. Boards must meet at least once a month during the school year. Many boards regularly meet twice a month year round and call special meetings as needed.

Will I get paid?
No. Members may be reimbursed for travel and subsistence expenses for authorized school purposes.

As a board member, can I be held personally liable for legal claims against the board or the school district?

As a general rule, no. By state law, governing board members cannot be held liable for actions taken in good faith and within the scope of their authority. Boards also may receive legal counsel to advise them, and the liability insurance of most, if not all, organizations covers board members who are acting in their official capacity. A governing board member is not immune from liability, however, if he or she:

  • Acts outside the scope of authority;
  • Knows (or should have known) that an action violates a person’s constitutional rights;
  • Engages in criminal activity;
  • Commits an intentional tort, such as assault, or
  • Violates the open meeting or conflict of interest laws.

Can my company do business with the school district if I am a board member?
Yes, but a board member cannot vote on matters in which he or she has a conflict of interest, and, in most circumstances, a board member’s company may seek only contracts offered by competitive bidding. The conflict of interest restrictions applicable to governing board members vary if the district’s enrollment is greater or less than 3,000 students.

What happens if I move out of the district while I hold office?
Governing board members must reside in their district to hold office. When notified that a member has moved from the district, the county superintendent can fill the vacancy by appointment or by calling a special election.