School board members take an active role in their community. They help determine and vote on school policies and procedures. They establish school budgets, set student performance standards, and create conditions that improve the educational foundation of the District. In most places, however, before one can sit on a school board, they must be elected to the position.
Before launching a school board campaign, there are major considerations to be considered. If you have the right reasons for running, and you are prepared to handle the work, then get yourself started!
School board candidates must meet certain minimum election requirements. These are set by local government. Generally, there is an age requirement, and the candidate must be a resident of both the state and the school district. You should check with your county election commission or district superintendent to determine your local requirements.
Determine Your Campaign Budget
If you are eligible to run and ready to start, the next step is figuring out how to raise enough money to run your campaign.The costs of school board campaigns have risen in recent years. Costs may range from the hundreds to even thousands of dollars, depending on the district and individual race.
Campaign advertising costs will vary depending on the types of advertising that will be done. The largest expense for most campaigns is in items like yard signs, brochures and mailings. Additional exposure can come from campaign websites, online advertising, newspaper and even television ads. Determining how much money it will take to run is crucial. Create a budget for all estimated campaign expenditures.
Once you determine your overall campaign costs, then you can start to raise money. Every campaign will fund their efforts differently. Some campaigns are fully self-funded, while others may be grassroots-funded by others.
You might build a small war chest early on by sending letters to your friends and family. Personal contacts and solicitation are an important part of the fundraising process. Other fundraising ideas include mailings or holding events to raise money.
Again, always check your local election laws and regulations.
Prepare and Debate
Some school boards will hold candidate debates. If your school system holds debates, learn the issues that face the school and stage ‘mock debates’ where you can practice answering questions with friends or family. Let them poke holes in your arguments and practice your facts until you know them cold.
Research and facts are important. You should know enough to argue both sides of a topic. Learn your weaknesses and those of your opponent.
Promote Your School Board Campaign
Now it’s time to get the word out about you and your campaign! At this point, you’ll have purchased and will need to distribute your campaign materials. Yard signs can be placed in supporter’s yards (with permission, of course). Brochures can be distributed or mailed. You can begin door-to-door canvassing, as well.
If you speak with parents or distribute campaign literature at a school event or function, you should get permission from the school or school board beforehand.
You can also campaign online – and this is growing trend for all political candidates. A campaign website can provide the means to promote fundraising events or even take online donations. A campaign website can be used to keep in touch with supporters and send voting reminders before Election Day.
School board candidates can also connect with others through social media. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most popular social media platforms for attracting support and getting the message out.
As the days count down, increase your voter contact through existing communication channels. This may include sending another mailing, increasing the frequency email/text messaging and social media updates. Supporters follow your campaign differently, so similar updates can be made across the different channels.
In the end, a well-planned, comprehensive GOTV strategy can mean the difference between winning and losing your school board election.