Vying for your Vote
By the Parklander
In early May, the Parklander approached the seven candidates running for the school board in District 4 with the opportunity to answer questions about themselves. Five candidates replied. As of June 8, the last day to officially declare candidacy, there were six candidates left. To put the subject in context, we asked a representative from the League of Women Voters to write about the election.
Questions to Ask
BY CAROL SMITH
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS ON AUGUST 14, all registered voters in Parkland, Coral Springs and parts of other cities will vote to elect their school board representative from District 4 and their representatives from the at-large seats 8 and 9. Why should you care? What difference does it make who gets elected?
Your child's education is at stake. While the state legislature has control of many parts of the educational system, the school board has the final say on much that affects your child's day-to-day life at school.
The Broward School Board has the responsibility to set the policy for all Broward County public schools, including where schools are built, when maintenance is done, and how to balance the number of students in the classroom with the number of teachers in the school. The school board approves the school budget for the year and, of course, sets the tax rate you pay. The school board confirms the school boundaries. It also sets the salaries for teachers.
Since charter schools are public schools, the school board has some state-mandated responsibilities for them. The experience of each member of the school board affects these decisions.
School board elections are non-partisan, which means candidates run without a party label. School board members serve for a term of four years and may be re-elected. Generally, half are elected every two years.
The Broward County School Board has nine members, each receiving a salary of approximately $40,930 per year. Seven members are elected from districts drawn every ten years, following the national census. (Note: those districts are being redrawn now, to take effect in 2014). On the ballot this year are candidates for Districts 2, 3, 4 and 5. Only voters living in a district are able to vote for their district representative. District 4 covers Parkland, Coral Springs, and parts of other cities.
There are also two at-large seats, which means every voter in Broward County helps select those school board members. This year, both at-large seats need to be filled. Seat 8 will have a two-year term and seat 9 will have a four-year term. Vying for seat 8 is Donna Piper Korn, Andrew Luciani and Franklin Sands. Running for seat 9 are Robin Bartleman and Barbara Houston Wilson.
Your vote is vital. Your responsibility is to choose the candidate who best agrees with your philosophy on education. But how do you do that? Go to meetings where the candidates will be speaking. Ask questions about their views on education, budgeting, and taxation. When you read the flyers mailed by the candidates, read carefully.
Who are a candidate's supporters, funders and endorsers? Does the candidate know the issues? Has the candidate volunteered at a school? What are the candidate's qualifications and experience? Does the candidate have business experience? How does the candidate feel about family or community input and involvement in schools? How would the candidate address high stakes testing and problems with the FCAT? These are just a few of the questions to ask as you evaluate the candidates.
Be sure to save your new voter information card. It will list your new congressional district, your new Florida house and senate districts, and your new Broward County commission district. Your school board district remains the same. o
The League of Women Voters of Broward County is a non-partisan political organization. It encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. It does not support or oppose any political party or candidate. For more information, call 954-341-9221.
To request a ballot by phone, call 954-357-7055 or go online at www.browardsoe.org. Early voting takes place from August 4 to 11. For more information, contact the supervisor of elections at 954-357-7050.