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Moving School Board Elections Away From Major Election Cycles Isn’t Reform—It’s Manipulation

In Northern Virginia, the Alexandria City School Board is considering some major changes to the way it holds its elections. One of the most striking proposed reforms is shifting school board elections away from federal and state-level election cycles.

This would be a mistake. No city or state should consider moving school board elections “off cycle.”

More than 96 percent of school board members nationwide are elected, and these members oversee everything from student transportation to teacher compensation to curriculum and everything in between. The impact of these elections is far reaching and lasting—that’s why these elections deserve input from parents and community members alike at the ballot box, not just in a survey.

To purposefully move these elections away from major election cycles to have a “better informed” electorate, knowing that turnout is significantly lower, is to hand school board elections to a select few special interests. When an election is off cycle, it’s also often out of mind for most voters—it disenfranchises and confuses voters and is borderline undemocratic.

As FGA research has found, when school board elections take place off cycle, the electorate is often much less likely to reflect the demographic makeup of the district’s student body and community at large.

School boards should encourage, not discourage, turnout and transparency. And one of the best ways to do this is to keep elections on cycle with other major races.

For more on school board election reforms, click here.

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