When the Pennsylvania Senate returns from its Christmas break, it will take up legislation to end partisan school board elections. The Senate Education Committee has already unanimously approved the measure by Senator Andy Dinniman of Chester County. Under the bill, the names of individuals seeking election to school boards would appear on ballots without affiliation to political party. In addition, there would only be a general election in November for school board seats....no primary election in the Spring.
"We could give independent voters an equal say and most importantly we can separate education policy from partisan politics which is the way it should be." Currently, independent voters cannot vote in primary elections in Pennsylvania except on ballot questions.
Dinniman says that electing school board members in November would eliminate actions over several months by lame duck school directors..."We have school board members who get defeated in a primary where they proceed to institute new building programs, curriculum changes, fire superintendents, when they were defeated in the primary over those very issues."
According to Dinniman, Pennsylvania is just 1 of 3 states that still allow partisan primary elections..."My legislation would shift the focus of school board elections from political differences to real educational and fiscal issues at stake."
If passed, the measure would take effect with the 2011 local elections.