School boards elections will determine our future
March 1, 2016
As presidential candidates continue to bluster through election season, grabbing national headlines all the way, we must not forget that November’s ballot will also feature several crucial local races that will shape Summit County.
Among the most important decisions voters will face on Election Day will be determining who sits on our school boards. Those familiar with the inner workings of local government know that school board officials wield critical influence in determining a community’s future.
In Summit County, all three school districts — Park City, South Summit and North Summit — each have three school board openings that will be decided this fall. School board elections are non-partisan, and it’s vital that a varied group of residents, comprising many different backgrounds and viewpoints, emerges to contest for the open seats.
The deadline for candidates to file with the Summit County clerk’s office is March 17. Those elected will receive stipends to cover travel expenses and meeting pay ($560 a month in Park City, for instance).
In Park City, the three candidates who are ultimately elected to the board will be handed down an important task: determining the path forward for a district facing several challenges due to a student base that is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. A large part of that burden will be to help execute the long-range master plan that has been the focus of the district’s efforts the last two years.
The fervor of the discussion surrounding the district’s bond measure last year showed that Park City residents are passionate about what happens to their schools and to the children that fill them. The candidates to fill the school board’s open seats must be ready to engage the community and be dedicated to finding solutions that best serve the needs of residents and students, alike.
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The South Summit School District faces its own set of issues. Its three schools are at capacity, with more students expected soon. Candidates who join South Summit’s school board must be prepared to navigate some of the same facilities planning considerations that Park City leaders have contended with as well as challenges unique to South Summit.
Unlike its counterparts, the North Summit School District is not nearing capacity at its schools. But it is a small district that doesn’t have the benefit of drawing from a substantial tax base. Dollars for all but the essentials are scarce. School board members will grapple with finding ways to get the most bang for their buck and guaranteeing that students don’t fall behind their peers in richer districts.
If it sounds like the school boards in Summit County have difficult jobs ahead of them, it’s because they do. That’s why it’s paramount that a qualified crop of candidates files to run for the openings this fall — they must ensure the school boards can rise to the occasion.
To run for school board, a candidate must file, in person, with the Summit County clerk and pay a $50 fee. Additionally, a candidate must currently live in the precinct he or she is running in and have lived there for at least the previous year. Candidates who are not registered voters must show proof of residency when they file.