Who Should Run for School Board?

by Blog

Josephine Barnhart Are you interested in running for the New Hanover County school board?

Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with a lady and she asked me “why don’t more parents run for the school board?” This is a wonderful question to which I can give you many reasons why not, as I have considered all of them. I looked at her and our kids and I said they are why parents should run for the school board. Kids, especially those with multiple kids, can take up many hours in your day and you may feel exhausted at times. I love all of my kids and wouldn’t change anything about that, but I definitely need a good cup of coffee daily.

Will you have time?

I have a 2, 4, and a 6 year old, and I can tell you that my life is busy! Unfortunately though, I know life doesn’t magically “get easier”. Many of us have been attending and watching our local school board meetings and decisions, and frankly many times we come away just shaking our heads. I have never been one to contact local elected or state level officials for that matter, however the events of the last year and a half changed that for me. I found myself calling, emailing, and actually getting return calls from both our local and state level leaders. What I have learned is the system needs more level headed and well rounded individuals to commit to engaging in conversations on multiple topics. I have asked some of our current school board members about the time commitments of serving as an elected school board member. In a typical week, you may be required to attend 2 meetings a week and then follow up as needed with local leaders and constituents. For me personally, I am fully vested as I have 2 children currently attending our public schools. Rather than remove my children from our school system due to all of the issues left unsolved or not addressed by the school board, I felt that I could provide a positive contribution aimed at improving our schools, which is ultimately why I am running.

What about scrutiny?

If you have followed our school district for any amount of time, it is very obvious the decisions or lack of decisive action by the school board will be heavily scrutinized as it should be. Our school system has been plagued by sexual misconduct incidents and allegations, and that has served to further tarnish our schools and our school board. To be clear we should NOT tolerate this. Earlier this year, a school board meeting got so out of hand due to a lack of an ability to manage and properly address serious issues faced by our schools and required the meeting to be halted and reconvened at a later date. The school board has been accused of violating the constitutional rights of individuals seeking to attend a meeting who claimed they had an exemption from wearing a face mask inside public buildings. Threats have been made against our elected officials and our superintendent, which also were made towards me and my family. I have always told my kids not to let fear stop you from trying to make a positive impact, so I am not going to let fear stop me either. We need people who genuinely want to help our kids and our staff, and I am here to listen to feedback and provide good suggestions and follow through on just that. There is no room for bullying in our district.

Let me talk to you about the process

I spoke with the local elections office and had many conversations to educate myself on the election process, and I came away with a wealth of knowledge. I have never been involved “in the political scene”, but I have ALWAYS been involved with kids. To run for the school board, one must file a form to establish a committee to run for office and then create a business financial account to collect donations. Once that is complete, your election committee can begin collecting donations to run your campaign in a variety of ways. For me, I knew I wanted to create a website that I could add content to and start to engage with the community. As a campaign committee, you will be required to have a treasurer, which could be filled, by you, the candidate. There is training you can take about how to become a treasurer too. If you are running as an affiliate of a political party, it is a good idea to introduce yourself to those groups. The reality is that the paperwork is just part of the official process, the formal candidacy filing period opens in December from the 6th to 17th. Then, you should expect to visit and meet with all sectors of our community and begin introducing yourself so that potential voters will get a better understanding of who you are and what your core beliefs are. We need our community to support candidates. I am one person, and I will need help in soliciting donations and identifying willing volunteers to mount a successful campaign. I am grateful for those who have already joined me in this journey, but I hope to recruit more as we are all in this together. Please contact me if you have questions about running.

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The New Hanover County Board of Education election is very competitive this election cycle and she’ll need all the resources she can get. Please consider supporting her efforts to bring positive change to our public education system by donating to her campaign.