Pare school board to 5 members?
Should the Haines Borough School District reduce its school board membership from seven to five? The question was raised at Tuesday’s board meeting, invoking a lively discussion among members.
Apparent lack of interest from community members running for school board seats prompted the question and discussion. In the past two elections, seats have gone vacant with appointments necessary to round out the seven member board.
This year, three candidates are running unopposed amd there is no candidate for a fourth open seat. It’s the second, consecutive year the board has failed to attract as many candidates as seats open on it.
Board president Carol Kelly hypothesized that folks may not want to run because “things are going smoothly and there’s no controversy.”
Board member Sarah Swinton questioned the reduction. “I don’t know if we should. I don’t know if it’s putting the cart before the horse,” she said. Swinton cited diversity in the school population as a reason to keep the larger board.
“I think there may be people hesitant to join because of APOC,” said member Anne Marie Palmieri, referring to current Alaska Public Offices Commission financial disclosure statement required of board members. Some, including borough Mayor Stephanie Scott, say the form discourages residents from seeking office.
The board, also Tuesday, resolved to provide a statement of support to the borough assembly for Proposition 1, which will appear on the November ballot. The proposition will provide local regulation for financial disclosure and exempt candidates from APOC regulations.
Similar-sized communities, such as Cordova, Petersburg and Sitka all have five-member school boards, superintendent Michael Byer reported. Historically, Haines once sat five members; borough code now determines composition at the current number.
“Obviously, we can’t do anything but recommend to the borough assembly to change (the number of seats on the board),” said Kelly.
The board unanimously decided to table the discussion until after November’s general election.