In catching up on some of the state news, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Senator Andy Dinniman’s recent education bill 1086 bill was favorably approved by the Senate Education Committee. I have always believed that the selection of our School Board directors should be nonpartisan and was pleased to learn that Senator Dinniman is making strides to create this environment.
Senator Dinniman’s proposed bill would eliminate a party affiliation for school board candidates; their names would appear on the ballot without a designated party. The school board candidates would not participate in the spring Primary Election — the candidates names would only appear on the ballot for the November General Election. According to Senator Dinniman, Pennsylvania is one of only 3 states that still allows a partisan school board primary. Changing to a nonpartisan school board would focus the attention away from politics and instead direct the attention of school board leadership directly on education and their fiscal responsibilities. The bill proposes that instead of local political parties selecting and endorsing school board candidates for the spring primary, the candidates would be required to collect a certain number of signatures (the number of signatures required would be based on the population of the school district) and their name would appear on the November General Election ballot.
I completely support a nonpartisan school board approach for all school districts. This bill would remove the selection of school board candidates from the local political parties and give over the power to the voters themselves. You probably know that registered Independents in Pennsylvania are not allowed to vote in the spring primary. So as far as the School Board election is concerned, removing School Board candidates from the spring primary would allow Independents more of a say in the selection process.
Senator Dinniman’s proposed legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate Education committee (which is comprised of 7 Republicans and 4 Democrats) and now will go to the Senate floor for action. I am hopeful that Senator Dinniman’s Bill 1086 will receive unanimous support from the Senate – this would be a great way to kick off 2010!