Ballotpedia report provides first-ever comprehensive breakdown of U.S. school board members

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 24, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ballotpedia report provides first-ever comprehensive breakdown of U.S. school board members
  2. Subscribe to The Heart of the Primaries for the latest updates 
  3. Initiative to limit interest rates on debt from healthcare services certified for Arizona ballot

Ballotpedia report provides first-ever comprehensive breakdown of U.S. school board members

The U.S. education system is a patchwork of local, state, and federal laws, regulations, and funding. The multilayered nature of this system has made comprehensive data on the number of school districts and school board members in the country difficult to assemble. However, a new Ballotpedia report fills this long-standing knowledge gap with objective, comprehensive data about all public school districts in the country. 

Our team combined original research—including scouring district and school board websites and email and phone outreach—with data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).  

This report does not include private or charter schools or schools lacking their own school board.

Here’s what we found.

The big picture

  • The U.S. school system is composed of 13,194 districts. 
  • Around 82,423 elected school board members represent those districts (this figure includes vacancies). 
  • The average number of school board members per district ranges from 3.45 in West Virginia to 9.97 in Connecticut. Hawaii, with one overarching school district across seven islands, has nine board members. 

Men make up a greater percentage of school board members

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women made up approximately 50.1% of the total U.S. population in 2019, while men made up approximately 48.9% of the population. How does that compare to the composition of male and female school board members? 

Nationwide, 52.15% of school board members are male, while 43.29% are female. We were unable to determine gender information for the remaining school board members (around 4.5%). 

The gender breakdown varies by state. The five states with the highest percentage of male school board members are:

  • Arkansas (63.90%)
  • Oklahoma (63.65%)
  • Tennessee (63.57%)
  • Texas (63.35%)
  • Nebraska (60.74%)

The five states with the highest percentage of female school board members are:

  • Florida (59.02%)
  • Alaska (58.59%)
  • Maryland (56.98%)
  • Arizona (55.77%)
  • Maine (54.79%)

Texas has the most school districts and the most school board members, but Connecticut has the most board members per district

Every state has at least one school district—and most states have more than 100. Hawaii, with one district, is an outlier. The Hawaii State Department of Education is a single district that oversees 257 schools across seven islands. Similarly, one district oversees all 116 schools in the District of Columbia. 

Texas has more districts than any other state—1,022 (California, with 977, is not far behind). Aside from Hawaii, Delaware, with 19 school districts, is the state with the fewest districts. 

While Texas has the highest number of school districts and school board members, Connecticut has the most school board members per district—9.97. Texas has 6.84 board members per district, while California has 5.04. West Virginia has the fewest board members per district, at 3.45. 

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Subscribe to The Heart of the Primaries for the latest updates 

With last night’s primaries in Florida and New York wrapped up, just three primary dates remain in the 2022 calendar. Massachusetts will hold its primary on Sept. 6, followed by Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island on Sept. 13. Louisiana’s primaries, which are held under a majority-vote system, take place on Nov. 8.

Primary season may be wrapping up, but our coverage in Heart of the Primaries continues. First launched in January 2018, our free weekly newsletter comes in two editions – one covering Democratic primaries and one covering Republican primaries. In each issue, we shed light on candidate policy differences, keep tabs on where PACs and other donor groups are putting their money (and why!), and bring you the latest polling numbers, election results, and endorsements. 

Our next edition goes out tomorrow, Aug. 25. Here are some of the stories we’re working on:

  • Florida and New York: We’ll be breaking down top battleground primary results from Florida and New York, including the Democratic primary for governor of Florida and the nominating contest in New York’s 12th Congressional District—this year’s final primary to pit two incumbent members of Congress against one another.
  • Top-five primaries preview in Nevada: We’re previewing an amendment to the Nevada constitution voters will consider in November. It would replace Nevada’s existing primary system with a top-five primary followed by a ranked-choice general election, similar to the top-four system that went into effect in Alaska this year.
  • Rhode Island gubernatorial preview: This week’s Democratic edition will include a deep dive into Rhode Island’s primary for governor, where incumbent Dan McKee faces four challengers. Polling suggests the race will be close.
  • New Hampshire Senate preview: In the Republican edition, we’ll be looking at the primary for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. Eleven candidates are running for the nomination to challenge incumbent Maggie Hassan (D). Polls indicate there is no clear leader.

Click the link below to browse past editions and subscribe to our free coverage of the primaries that will shape the future of the Democratic and Republican parties.

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Initiative to limit interest rates on debt from healthcare services certified for Arizona ballot

Arizonans will decide a ballot initiative designed to limit interest rates on debt from healthcare services. It’s the first initiative certified for the ballot in Arizona for November. Two other initiatives are undergoing signature verification. One would require any independent expenditure of $50,000 or more on a statewide campaign or $25,000 or more on a local campaign to include a disclosure of the names of all original sources who contributed $5,000 or more. The other would make changes to the state’s voting policy, including authorizing the funding of election drop boxes and voting equipment, requiring that voters on the early voting list automatically receive a ballot without needing to request one directly, and introducing same-day voter registration. There are also eight legislative referrals on the ballot.

On Aug. 17, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Frank Moskowitz rejected a legal challenge to the measure that alleged paid petition circulators had not properly registered with the secretary of state’s office.

The measure would set limits on interest rates for debt accumulated from receiving healthcare services to match either the weekly average one-year constant maturity treasury yield or 3%, whichever is less. It would increase the amount of homestead exempt from debt collection from $150,000 to $400,000. It would also increase the amount of value of household furnishings, motor vehicles, bank accounts, and disposable earnings exempt from debt collection processes.

In order to qualify for the ballot, signature petitioners needed to collect at least 237,645 valid signatures. Signatures were verified through a random sampling process. Arizonans Fed Up with Failing Healthcare submitted 472,296 signatures to the secretary of state on July 7. Of those signatures, the secretary of state’s office estimated 333,958 are valid.

Depending on whether the two pending initiatives qualify for the ballot, Arizona voters will decide between nine and 11 ballot measures this year, the most since at least 2012. In the five previous even-numbered years, Arizona voters decided an average of 4.6 ballot measures per year. During that time, 2020 had the fewest measures on the ballot (two), and 2012 had the most (nine).

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