Northshore Council PTSA, as part of its advocacy efforts, Northshore Council PTSA holds candidate forums ahead of upcoming elections, including school board elections. This year, we are beginning our advocacy work earlier by providing information about the role of school board directors to the community so that potential candidates can be informed ahead of filing deadlines.
What is a school board?
Each public school district is governed by a board of citizens who are elected to serve as school board directors. School board directors work together to oversee the school district. As a board, their primary responsibilities are:
How do you run for school board?
The WA Secretary of State’s website provides guidance and resources to guide you through the process of determining what positions are up for election, whether you are eligible to run for office, and how to navigate the process.
In Northshore, we have 5 school board directors, each serving a term of four years. Board members represent the district at large although they must reside in specific geographical areas of the district. Check out this map to see which director district area you live in.
In November 2021, voters elected School Board Directors for seats 1, 4, and 5 with terms ending in 2025. This November, School Board Directors seats 2 and 3 will be up for election for terms ending in 2027.
For election and candidate filing information, check out these additional resources:
What is it like to be a school board director in Northshore?
While there is a lot of general information available on the role of school board directors, we wanted to hear from our current school board. Here are some of the questions we asked them and how they answered. Note: The answers below have been summarized and anonymized from the current board’s responses to a poll and is not meant to promote any specific candidate. Northshore Council PTSA’s goal is to provide the community with general information about the role of a school board director.
Highlight over each question and click to expand to read the answers.
Question: On average, how many hours per week do you spend on school board business?
Answers: It depends on the week, but in general, between 10-20 hours. Those hours will often be split between different duties, such as community engagements, reading materials/meeting preparation, study sessions, and meetings.
Question: Is it possible to hold a full-time job and also serve on the school board?
Answers: Yes, but flexibility is the key. The board will do their best to work around work schedules as much as possible, and most required meetings will be 4pm or later. However, know that if you have a traditional 9-5 job there may be times you won’t be able to be there, so it helps to have a supportive boss.
Question: How much travel outside of the district is required for someone to serve as a NSD School Board Director?
Answers: There is none required, however, there are a few travel related opportunities throughout the year. One being the Annual WSSDA Conference which is held every year and rotates between Bellevue and Spokane. While not mandatory, this is an important event to attend, especially for anyone new to the role of school board director, as it provides training, professional development, and an opportunity for team building. Other opportunities that could require travel include regional board meetings and travel to our state capitol in Olympia for advocacy, however some of these things may be offered virtually as well throughout the year.
Question: What previous experience does someone need in order to run for a School Board Director seat?
Answers: There is no required previous experience. However, its beneficial if school board directors have a basic understanding of Northshore schools and programs as well as an understanding of what it’s like working in teams with long-term goals. It could be also useful to have a background in some aspect relevant to running a district, whether education, finance, program/management, legal, etc. Additionally, having experience in Northshore schools, such as being involved in their local PTA or volunteering in the classroom, is helpful because it allows for a perspective beyond just their own child.
Question: What skills do you think it takes to be an effective School Board Director?
Answers: There are many skills our current school board sees as beneficial to the role, including:
Question: What do you enjoy the most about being a NSD School Board Director?
Answers: Here are just a few of the things our current school board find most rewarding:
Question: What has been the most difficult part about being a NSD School Board Director?
Answers: School board directors shared that it’s not always easy to do this work and it can be stressful. it’s not always easy to do this work and it can be stressful. Being in the public spotlight you often have to deal with animosity and personal attacks. Northshore is a large district, and not everyone gets along or agrees with the decisions you will make. The time commitment to properly prepare for meetings can be challenging and it can be hard to balance the duties of school board director, personal life, and other commitments.
Question: What one piece of advice would you give someone who is considering running for a NSD School Board Director seat?
“Do it. It will be the most important contribution you can make to the people in your community.”
“It is a bigger time commitment than it appears but completely worth it. Being able to admit that you don't have the answers actually makes you a better board member than believing you have all the solutions.”
“Learn all you can about the role and responsibilities, have a plan to manage the time commitment, and plan your favorite stress management regimen (you might not need it all the time, but there will be a time when you will need it).”
“Standing for election is a very different thing from serving as a Director. This community is amazing and committed to our students and they will recognize and support a candidate who shows that commitment. Focus on the good you hope to do, if only just to serve the community, education and our students. Make it a conversation. Be willing to listen but also willing to turn the topic back to students.”
“To be aware that the Board is not a legislative body or executive agency that runs the daily activities of the district or makes decision on how things are run. It does not make employment, classroom, or school building administrative decisions. That is the job of the Superintendent, the Board's only employee. The Board is similar to the Board of Directors of a company. It provides oversight, advice, and sets goals, values, and aspirations based upon community and educator input.”
Question: Is there anything else we didn't ask about that you feel someone who is considering running for a NSD School Board Director seat should know?
Answers: Overall, our current board emphasized how this is the most rewarding work they have ever done. Serving as school board director will expand your understanding of how a complex organization functions and empowers you to be a part of making education better for students and staff. However, it’s important to note that being on the school board can make it harder to be an advocate for your own child or to express concerns about a teacher or other student when you are in the public eye than when you are not on the board.
Most importantly, our school board wants to thank those who are considering running for a school board seat; for taking the time from work and family to serve our community's children.
Thank you to the current school board directors who took the time to answer our questions.
We hope you have found this information to be both helpful and insightful to anyone considering running for a school board seat. Please make sure to share this article with your school community.
If you want to learn more about running for school board or how to get involved in advocacy, check out the additional resources below or email Northshore Council PTSA VP of Advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.