HARRISBURG (June 19) – Today in a 10-1 vote, the Senate Education Committee approved Senator Andy Dinniman’s Senate Bill 327, legislation that would end partisan school board elections for the betterment of communities and school districts throughout the Commonwealth.
Under the bill, the names of individuals seeking election to school boards would appear on ballots without affiliation to political party. School board elections would occur only at the November general election and would no longer be part of spring-time primary elections.
“It is time for Pennsylvania to join almost every other state in the nation by doing away with partisan school board elections and by putting the power back in the hands of the voters,” Dinniman said. “By doing so, we can shift the focus of school board elections from political posturing to the real educational and fiscal issues at stake.”
Committee Chairman Senator Jeff Piccola said Sen. Dinniman’s bill carried his “enthusiastic support.”
As it now stands, political parties select and endorse candidates who then run in spring-time primary elections for their respective parties’ official nomination and a spot on the November ballot.
Under Dinniman’s bill, that system would be replaced by one where candidates are required to collect a certain number of signatures based on the size of the school district. For instance, candidates in the West Chester Area School District (population 101,220) would be required to collect 100 signatures. Candidates in the Phoenixville Area School District (population 28,335) and the Owen J. Roberts School District (population 26,855) would be required to collect 50 signatures.
“By eliminating partisan school board elections, we can put the power back in the hands of the voters, rather than in the hands of local political committees; we can give independent voters – who cannot vote in primaries – more of a say in selecting their school directors; and we can effectively prevent lame-duck school boards that sometimes make major decisions in their last months in office,” Dinniman said.
“Residents, parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve to have a direct say in choosing school board leaders that represent their views, instead of being forced to pick between candidates tapped by local political committees,” he added.
For more information contact Senator Dinniman’s district office at (610) 692-2112, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.