Bill aims to get more votes for school boards

Posted at 10:59 AM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 19:19:27-05

A bill working its way through the Statehouse would move Idaho school board elections from May to a November general election.

The bill sponsor Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, says its purpose is to get more people engaged with their local school board. He said in many districts throughout the state political participation in May is abysmal.

"We surveyed about 22 districts and we found elections - recent elections - as low as 1% turnout for a school board election," he said. "Schools are important, the education of our children is important, but we don't have the engagement we need."

Rice said by moving the elections to November school board candidates will get votes from a greater percentage of the population. He believes the result will be a school board that better represents the wishes of the people.

That would have an effect on recall initiatives, added Rice. His own district in Caldwell recently recalled two trustees on the school board and the neighboring district of West Ada is currently embroiled in a four-trustee recall fight.

"The views of the school board are going to be more reflective of the community, which decreases the likelihood of a recall at all," he said. "The other thing is, the number of signatures required to initiate a recall will go up."

The bill will get a public hearing before the Senate Education Committee Thursday afternoon.