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School Board Elections FAQ

Published by Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB), April 2018

When are school board elections held?
Beginning in 2019 regular school board elections will be held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years. 

What are the qualifications to run for my local school board?

You must be a United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, a resident of the school district and eligible to be registered to vote. 

Can board members or school employees participate in the campaign process?

Yes, but there are some restrictions, especially on what employees may do during work time or what board members may do in their official capacity. 

I missed my deadline to file for candidacy, what happens now?

You could become a write-in candidate. Space must be provided on election ballots for write-in candidates. The write-in candidate is not required to file a nomination petition. IASB recommends that write-in candidates conduct public and open campaigns to make their views and positions known throughout the community before the election. If a write-in is elected, it must be determined whether the individual is willing and eligible to serve. If the individual meets the eligibility criteria and is willing to serve, then the individual is sworn in at the organizational meeting. 

Is there a vacancy if no one files papers AND there are no write-in candidates?

Yes. If no one files papers, there is no write-in candidate, or an individual written-in is unwilling to serve, the board declares the position vacant at the organizational meeting. The board must then fill the vacancy in accordance with law, which provides that the board has 30 days to appoint but they must provide notice that they intend to appoint and the community has the right to file a petition requiring the vacancy be filled by a special election


If a candidate’s spouse or family member works for the school district, can they still serve on the school board?

Yes. Iowa law does not prohibit a spouse or other family member of a school district employee from serving on a school board.

Can a school employee run for the school board?

Yes. However, if elected, a school employee earning more than $2,500 per fiscal year from the school district would have to resign the position before serving on the school board. Iowa law prohibits board members from earning more than $2,500 in direct compensation from a school district per fiscal year for part-time or temporary employment.


I am a school employee of another district. Can I serve on my local school board?

Yes. A person may be an employee of another district or an area education agency and serve on their local school board.


I’m newly elected—when do I take office?

The organizational meeting is to be held after the first regular meeting following the canvass of votes. Check with your school district for a local meeting schedule.


I’m newly elected and can’t make it to the organizational meeting—is there another way to take the oath of office? 

Yes—before the organizational meeting or long distance. Iowa Code states that a newly elected board member must take the oath of office at or beforethe organizational meeting. So, the board member can be sworn in anytime between the canvass of votes and the end of the organizational meeting, date to be determined by your local school district. If the newly elected board member cannot be sworn in by the end of the organizational meeting, a vacancy is created. If you cannot take the oath of office at or before the organization meeting and need to be sworn in long distance, contact IASB or your board secretary to work through the provisions.  


While campaigning, I promised my neighbor that I would make it a priority to build a new football field. If elected, will I be able to follow through on this campaign promise?

IASB recommends that you carefully consider your campaign promises. As an individual, a board member has no authority. It’s only when a majority of the board takes action through a vote that the board’s authority is exercised. Remember—state your position on issues, but avoid making promises that you alone cannot keep.