Four County School Boards Association holding seminar on running for school board amid tensions

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In a time of turmoil for school boards, some local school systems are trying to raise a new crop of leaders by doing some educating.

Anyone thinking of running for school board in four local counties can get some pointers in an upcoming online seminar.

“You see on the news, some very heated discussions at board meetings or, really, hot issues, but that’s really not the focus of this,” explained Four County School Boards Association Executive Director Stephen Miskell.

With school board meetings, locally and across the country, sometimes turning into showdowns, the association is trying to assure possible school board members that their real business is less contentious and more important, focused on the students.

On March 5, it’ll host a virtual seminar for possible school board candidates in Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties with an eye towards newcomers thinking of running.

“This workshop is really targeted to people who’ve never served on the board,” Miskell said, “who would like to know more about it and have a chance to sit down with people who have a good experience with board membership or school governance. That’s really our target audience.”

Miskell said away from highly charged school board debates, the seminar focuses on issues like dealing with a superintendent, or how just much time an unpaid board member might have to devote. The seminar will deliver counsel and insights from a panel including new and veteran board members and a superintendent, and maybe a reality check for candidates with agendas.

“I always encourage people to not run on any particular issue,” Miskell said, “like if they have an issue that’s critically important to them or have an ax to grind, perhaps, who wants to advocate some particular purpose, but it’s really something bigger than that.”

Even in peaceful times, Miskell said school board turnover is not unusual and this seminar is an opportunity for new, concerned, devoted possible board members to get involved.

“When people who are really engaged in what’s best for children, are willing to work hard on behalf of children, they can do some really great things together," Miskell said, "And that’s what our focus is.”

The school board elections are scheduled for May 17.