April 26, 2013

With election season behind us, school boards are contemplating what must be done to get on with business.  Topping the list of post-election governance matters is the reorganization meeting and completing mandatory training for new board members. Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, Chtd. is prepared to help boards accomplish these tasks.

Before holding a reorganization meeting, school boards must ensure that those members elected as write-in candidates conform to certain requirements.   Upon election to the school board, write-in candidates must file with the board secretary a Statement of Candidacy and a receipt for the Statement of Economic Interest.  The board secretary must notify the election authority when these documents have been properly filed.

Once all members have met the requirements for seating, a reorganization meeting must be held within 28 days of the election, which this year is May 7, 2013.  No requirement exists as to when that meeting must take place within the 28- day window.  At this meeting, the board will select a president pro tem and a secretary pro tem. The president pro tem will then call the meeting to order, at which point boards will elect a president, vice president, and secretary.  A treasurer will also be elected, or will be appointed if not a member of the school board.  Dates and locations for regular meetings will be determined and other business to be conducted will be listed.

School board members are also required to undergo two types of training during the first year after an election.  Training regarding the Open Meetings Act (OMA) must be completed within the first 90 days after taking the oath of office.  The training requirements include OMA general applicability, procedures, and legal requirements.  Once OMA training is complete, board members must file a copy of their certificate of completion with the school board.

A minimum of four hours of professional development and leadership training also must be completed.  Board members must complete this training within the first year of their first term.  These four hours consist of training in education and labor law, financial oversight and accountability, and fiduciary responsibilities. School districts must post on their website the names of all board members who have successfully completed this training.

Further, under the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA), board members who will undertake evaluations are required to complete a pre-qualification program approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).  The Firm is certified by the ISBE to deliver this training.

While the training requirements may seem cumbersome, the Firm is here to help.  As part of the five hours of free in- service training we annually provide to our clients, we offer to provide instruction on these and other board governance related matters.  We urge you to take advantage of this free service and to contact an attorney Scariano, Himes and Petrarca with any questions about newly elected school board members or newly constituted boards.