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Identifying and Encouraging Qualified School Board Candidates

A solid school board is composed of engaged citizens with an understanding of the issues that are important to your schools and the broader community. Fostering a sense of civic responsibility and relaying the consequences of voter choices will not only provide an informed electorate but may also be the catalyst for qualified candidates to step forward for your next election. 


Once interested candidates are identified, they need to be mindful of filing dates, so they don’t miss the narrow window of opportunity. In Minnesota, filing dates for school board seats depend on whether the school district holds primaries or not.

  • Candidates in school districts where a primary is possible may file from May 21, 2024 until June 4, 2024 at 5 pm.

  • Candidates in school districts where a primary is not held may file from July 30, 2024 until August 13, 2024 at 5 pm.

Contact the Secretary of State’s office if you need clarification about the filing dates in your district.


Cultivating future candidates

Political novices may not have enough time to decide whether they can make the commitment to serve on your school board this year, but there are steps you can take to get and keep them engaged for the future. Invite future potential candidates to participate in an ongoing or finite school or district committee or task force, so they get a better understanding of the important work of your school district and the influence of the school board. Make yourself and key board members available to answer questions.


Keeping the public in the know

While districts cannot advocate for specific candidates, they can keep the public informed. Providing a voter guide that features candidates and some of their positions on key topics is a way to engage voters and help candidates get the word out about who they are and what they hope to achieve. Inver Grove Heights mailed a voter guide for school board members to all residents prior to the November 2023 election and posted candidate profile information on its website. If local organizations like the League of Women Voters hold debates or forums, publicize them in district communications.


Holistic approach

School boards have myriad responsibilities. Staying focused is vital to the overall success of their schools. The Minnesota School Boards Association describes in its Standards for School Board Leadership a number of important points to keep in mind:[1]

  • The school board, as a whole provides leadership to the community on behalf of the school district by conducting its business in a fair, respectful, legal, and responsible manner.

  • The school board, with community input, envisions the educational future of the community and then formulates the goals, defines the outcomes, and sets the course for the school district.

  • The school board, to achieve its vision, establishes organizational and physical structures for student and staff success.

  • The school board is accountable to the community for constantly monitoring the conditions affecting the school district as a whole.

  • The school board advances its vision at the local, regional, state, and national levels.


Encouraging potential board members to take a holistic approach, recognizing that a well-functioning board looks at the big picture and communicates with transparency is key to finding qualified candidates and staying focused on the ultimate goal – doing what’s best for students.



This series on strategic communications in schools is provided as a service from Resource Training and Solutions to provide additional resources to busy school leaders.


Jayne Helgevold is an Account Manager at DehlerPR

[1] Standards for School Board Leadership are found in the Resource Library at Login and password may be required.


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