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Education

School board terms poised to shrink in First State

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Delaware Public Media
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The state Senate approves reducing school board terms in Delaware.

 

Senate lawmakers joined their House colleagues in voting to cut school board terms in Delaware from five years to four years. It now goes to Gov. John Carney for his signature.

The measure will affect all school board members elected starting in 2022.

Supporters say it will aid in recruitment of candidates of color, which is a problem with some school boards.

Bill sponsor State Sen. Laura Sturgeon (D-Brandywine West) says the legislation will also add accountability for school board members.

"Voters need the opportunity to give their feedback to their elected officials at the ballot box with more frequency in order to hold them to the high standards of conduct and outcomes we deserve for our school children," saif Sturgeon. "If members of the General Assembly can learn to be effective in their jobs in two or four years, certainly school board members can also learn their jobs and be effective in four years time.”

Sturgeon adds the hope is the measure will also mean better candidates.

"The length of the current term is likely a deterrent for strong candidates to step up to serve. In Delaware, 54 School board seats have gone unchallenged in the last six years," said Sturgeon. "Delaware is only one of two states - the other being Michigan - that has school board terms longer than four years. 30 states have four year terms, 14 states have three year terms, and one state has a two year term."

The Senate also passed legislation allowing one excused absence per school year for students in grades 6 through 12 for civic activites, like visiting the U.S. Capitol, Legislative Hall, sites of political and cultural significance, or to participate in a rally, march, protest, or walkout.

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