(The Center Square) – Those who aspire to help govern their local school district in Illinois may now file nominating petitions.
Nearly 6,000 men and women serve on school boards in the state, which covers 852 school districts.
Some incoming members will have the responsibility of allocating part of hundreds of millions of dollars in unspent COVID-19 relief money. Reatha Owen, senior director of Field and Equity Services with the Illinois Association of School Boards, said preparation for incoming board members will be important.
“I think research is the key,” Owen said. “Looking at what do they have as far as district goals in their strategic plan, what are the priorities that they are focusing on, what are some large initiatives that the board will be focusing on.”
Revenue sources for Illinois schools come mainly from local taxes, about 43.5%, while nearly 32% comes from the state, and 24.7% is from the federal government.
A new law that takes effect on Jan. 1 mandates school board members to receive training on “trauma-informed practices.” Practices include “the prevalence of trauma among students, including the prevalence of trauma among student populations” and “the effects of implicit or explicit bias on recognizing trauma among various students in connection with race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation,” among other things.
School board candidates must have at least 50 signatures from registered voters in their district to file nominating petitions. The deadline to file is Dec. 19.
With few exceptions, governing school boards consist of seven members elected to serve four year terms. Terms are staggered so there are three to four seats contested at each biennial election.
In many school districts, candidates run at-large. This means members of the board can live anywhere within the district and a voter can vote for any candidate or candidates.
The next consolidated election will be April 4, 2023.