Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.
In today’s edition, you’ll find:
- On the issues: The debate over government-funded lunches in public schools
- School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
- Education on the ballot
- Candidate Connection survey
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On the issues: The debate over government-funded lunches in public schools
In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.
On March 31, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska) introduced the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act of 2022. The bill would extend for one year U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waivers issued during the pandemic allowing public schools to provide free meals to all children. Congress did not extend the waivers in the most recent budget bill.
Below, Richard E. Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and Jamie Bussel, a senior program officer, write that universal school lunches would improve the health of children, reduce food insecurity, and undo the effects of systematic racism.
Max Eden, research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes that the expanded school lunch program could affect childrens’ perception of the family as their primary provider. Eden also says agriculture lobbyists influence school lunch menus, so the food is not as healthy as proponents think.
School meals should remain free for all children — today and always | Richard E. Besser and Jamie Bussel, The Hill
“But the value of good nutrition to children, families and schools is long-term and profound. Universal school meals should be permanent. Our nation has a history of addressing shortfalls during periods of crisis, only to let them reaccumulate once the dust has settled. If we take that path with universal school meals, we will be repeating that predictable cycle. Ending this support would say a lot — none of it favorable — about how we prioritize the needs of children and families in America, and in particular, our commitment to undoing the damage caused by structural racism and discrimination against children and families of color. … [T]oday, universal school meals are merely a temporary band-aid on a gaping wound. Whether they become a permanent fixture of our nation’s efforts to end childhood poverty and hunger, improve children’s health and help children reach their full potential and thrive is up to us. There is no better or more important time to make the right choice.”
There’s No Free Lunch | Max Eden, AEI
“There is a strong case for having the government provide food to children whose parents can’t afford to feed them adequately, but that’s not the question at hand. The question is whether the government should feed children whose parents can afford it. … The children [who received free lunches in Ohio] had to contemplate the state as provider, rather than reflecting on how the love and labor of parents brought food to their plate. That experience shapes a child’s moral worldview, with human consequences that evade econometric analysis. Since the government, not the family, is already providing the education, the food may seem like a minor detail. But as the religions recognize, it carries significant meaning. … Progressives eager to expand school lunches, breakfasts, and dinners may be disappointed to discover that even after all the heavily touted efforts to make school lunches more local and nutritious, what gets served in school cafeterias remains heavily influenced by Big Agriculture and its lobbyists.”
School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.
Election results from the past week
Two California school districts held special elections on April 12. Results are preliminary.
Andy Levine won the election with 55.87% of the vote. Daniel Renteria, Russ Allen, and Andrew Fabela received 21.35%, 11.68%, and 11.09% of the vote, respectively.
Araceli Lopez defeated Jesus Silos 62.96% to 37.04%.
States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days
The filing deadline is for primary elections that will occur on July 19.
- Baltimore County Public Schools, Maryland
- Cecil County Public Schools, Maryland
- Frederick County Public Schools, Maryland
- Harford County Public Schools, Maryland
- Howard County Public Schools, Maryland
- Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland
- Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland
The filing deadline is for an election that will occur on May 17.
Upcoming school board elections
Newark Public Schools in New Jersey is holding a school board general election on April 19. Districts in Tennessee are holding primary elections on May 3. Districts in Texas are holding general elections on May 7.
Click the links below to learn more about elections in each election.
- Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
- Hamilton County School District
- Knox County School District
- Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
- Rutherford County Schools
- Shelby County Schools
- Williamson County Schools
- Click here to learn about each of the races in the 47 districts within our coverage holding elections on May 7
School board candidates per seat up for election
For the 244 school board races we are covering whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.25 candidates are running for each seat.
Education on the ballot: a look at this year’s education-related ballot measures
We’ve talked a lot about school board elections in this newsletter. Today, let’s look at the statewide education-related ballot measures voters will decide in November.
As of April 2022, six statewide education-related ballot measures have been certified for the ballot. All six measures will be decided on Nov. 8. In 2020, eight education-related measures were certified for the ballot. Voters approved two and defeated six.
Ballot measures have been certified in the following states:
- Arizona: In-state tuition for non-citizen residents
- Massachusetts: Funding for education and transportation
- Nevada: Increases a state sales tax to fund public education
- New Mexico: Funds early childhood education
- Rhode Island: Amendment concerning public education and libraries
- West Virginia: Amendment requiring the State Board of Education to submit rule and policy changes to the legislature
There are several ways ballot measures can get on the ballot. The two most common methods are citizen-initiated measures, which typically require citizens to collect a certain number of signatures, and legislatively referred measures, which require a state legislature to vote to put a measure on the ballot. Click here to read more about the different types of ballot measures.
In a future edition of this newsletter, we’ll take a look at the proposed measures dealing with education that might still qualify for the November ballot.
The ballot measure would allow non-citizen students, except those considered to be nonresident aliens under federal law, to receive in-state college tuition when a student (a) attended school in Arizona for at least two years and (b) graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona.
The ballot measure would repeal provisions of Proposition 300, which voters approved in 2006. Proposition 300 said non-citizens could not receive certain state-subsidized services, benefits, or financial aid or in-state tuition rates.
Path to the ballot: State Sen. Paul Boyer (R) filed the ballot measure as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1044. On March 4, 2021, the Arizona State Senate voted 17-13 to pass SCR 1044. Senate Democrats and three Republicans supported the resolution. The remaining 13 Republicans opposed the bill. The Arizona House of Representatives voted 33-27 to approve SCR 1044 on May 10, 2021. House Democrats, along with four Republicans, supported the resolution. The remaining 27 Republicans opposed the resolution.
The measure would create an additional 4% tax on the portion of income above $1 million to fund public education, roads and bridges, and public transportation. The tax would be levied in addition to the state’s 5% flat income tax, for a total tax rate of 9% on income above $1 million. The amendment would also authorize the $1 million threshold to be indexed to the cost of living in Massachusetts using the same method used to establish federal income brackets. The tax would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
Path to the ballot: The Massachusetts General Court held a joint session on June 9, 2021, where they approved the amendment by a vote of 159-41. The amendment was introduced in the 2021 legislative session as Senate Bill 5. All but one Republican, Sen. Patrick O’Connor, voted against the amendment, and all but nine Democrats favored it. The sole Independent member, Rep. Susannah Whipps, voted in favor of it.
This initiative has been the subject of a lawsuit. The Clark County Education Association, which sponsored this initiative, requested to withdraw the initiative after a legislative compromise was reached. In October 2021, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) said the law did not allow her to remove the initiative from the ballot after certification. On March 9, 2022, District Court Judge James Wilson ordered Cegavske to withdraw the initiatives and not put them on the 2022 ballot. Cegavske’s office said it would appeal the decision on March 15. Read more about the lawsuit here.
This initiative would increase the state’s Local School Support Tax, a sales tax, from the current 2.25% to 3.75% with revenue dedicated to public schools. Currently, the total Local School Support Tax sales and use tax rate is 2.6%. The new total Local School Support Tax would be 4.1%.
Path to the ballot: Kenny Belknap filed this initiative with the Nevada Secretary of State on January 15, 2020. In February 2020, BizPac, the political action committee of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, challenged the ballot language submitted by initiative petitioners. Sponsors of the initiative filed a new version of the initiative on March 24, 2020, and reported submitting over 190,000 signatures to county election officials on November 17. On December 15, 2020, county officials verified 137,791 of the 190,192 submitted signatures for the petition, about a 72.4% validity rate. The measure was certified for the ballot after the Nevada State Legislature did not choose to vote on the indirect initiative prior to the March 12, 2021 deadline.
The measure would allocate 1.25% of the five-year average of year-end market values of the money in the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to early childhood education and public education. Sixty percent of the allocated funds would go to early childhood education, while 40% would go to public education.
The LGPF is also known as the Permanent School Fund. Revenue in the LGPF comes from leases and royalties on non-renewable natural resources, such as oil and gas, and returns on invested capital. It was established when New Mexico became a state in 1912.
The New Mexico Constitution established an annual 5% distribution from the fund, with the proceeds given to 21 designated beneficiaries. The amendment would increase the annual distribution to 6.25%. The amendment also says that if the average year-end market value for the preceding five years of the LGPF dropped to $17 billion, allocations would be halted until the fund amount increased. Between 2016 and 2020, the average year-end market value for the fund was $18 billion
The amendment would also require Congressional approval because the LGPF was established by federal law and did not initially include early childhood education as a beneficiary.
Path to the ballot: This amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution 1 on January 19, 2021. On February 12, 2021, the state House passed HJR 1 in a vote of 44-23 with three absent. On March 18, 2021, the state Senate passed an amended version in a vote of 26-16. The vote was along party lines, except Sen. Bill G. Tallman was the only Democrat to vote against the amendment. The state House concurred on March 19. The state House vote details listed below are from the House floor vote prior to the amendment.
This amendment would establish a “fundamental right to a public education and the duty to promote public libraries” and require that the legislature ensure the education is equitable, adequate, and meaningful for each child. It would also authorize any person or entity to sue the state if the state is not in noncompliance with the amendment.
Path to the ballot: This amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 2095 on January 25, 2022. On March 15, 2022, the state Senate passed SJR 2095 in a vote of 36-0, with two not voting.
This amendment would change the state constitution to include a requirement that the West Virginia State Board of Education’s rules and policies must be submitted to the legislature for review and approval, amendment, or rejection according to a process determined by the legislature by law.
The State Board of Education is a nine-member board with nine-year terms. members are gubernatorial appointees requiring Senate confirmation. The board sets rules and policies governing the public school education system and county boards of education.
Path to the ballot: In 2022, state Rep. Paul Espinosa (R-66) introduced a constitutional amendment as House Joint Resolution 102 (HJR 102). The House passed the resolution on February 22, in a vote of 80 to 18, with two absent. On February 28, the Senate approved the measure with a technical amendment by a vote of 23 to 11, sending HJR 102 back to the House for concurrence. On March 3, the House concurred by a vote of 74 to 20, with six absent. The final votes in each chamber were largely along party lines. In the Senate, one Democrat joined 22 Republicans in support, and one Republican joined 10 Democrats in opposition. In the House, one Democrat joined all 73 voting Republicans in support, and the remaining 20 voting Democrats were opposed.
Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district
Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more.
In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey.
If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey.
The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.
And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!