Pennsylvania's public school enrollment was 1,830,684 students in 2005-2006.
In 2008, Pennsylvania has 501 individual public school districts. Each one has nine school directors. (except those taken over by the state) A consolidation of two districts in western PA are will result in 500 districts in 2009.
In addition to the traditional public schools, Pennsylvania has charter public schools, cyber charter schools, parochial schools, private schools and families who choose to home school.
Approximately, 4500 people volunteer their time serving as board members. Elected school board members are not paid a salary. They can be reimbursed for expenses when approved by their fellow board members.
The term of a school board member is 4 years. Some school board members serve a shorter time if they are appointed to fill a vacancy. In some districts, the board members are elected at large. In others they are chosen from within subdivisions of the district.
Elections of school board directors are staggered. Five seats are up for election in one cycle and four are up for election two years later. This is intended to provide for some continuity within the board.
"Terry Moe, a political science professor at Stanford University, found in a recent study that school board incumbents endorsed by teachers unions win 92 percent of the time. Additionally, teachers unions are the largest outside contributors to school board candidates' campaigns and the most active campaigners." School boards' worth in doubt Pittsburgh Post Gazette. November 2003.
Nationwide, school board members are largely homogeneous.
"According to a Pennsylvania School Boards Association study, fewer than 1 percent of the state's board members come from a racial or ethnic minority group of any kind. Nine percent list their religion as something other than Protestant or Catholic.
And school boards usually don't include members who are low-income, said William Cunningham, a school governance researcher who teaches at Old Dominion University." School boards' worth in doubt Pittsburgh Post Gazette. November 2003. Graphic of data
PSBA reported in 2006 that the average income of a school board member in Pennsylvania exceeded $75,000 annually.
Budgeting is one of their duties. They also set policy and negotiate/approve contracts.
They are to make long and short term plans for the district. The strategic plan is one example.
School Boards must approve debt, building projects and purchases.
School Boards approve hiring of all district employees.
People interested in running for the school board can circulate ballot nomination petitions for both major political parties for the spring primary. Check with the county election office for more information.
Independents and third party candidates circulate Nomination Papers to get on the fall ballot. Check with the county election office for more information.
PSBA - Pennsylvania School Board Association describes itself as an advocate for public education and local school governance. They work actively as lobbyists to affect legislation related directly and indirectly to schools.
Public Education in Pennsylvania is governed by: The President, US Congress, US Dept. of Education, the Pennsylvania General Assembly ( Senate Education Committee & House Education Committee) , the Governor, the Pennsylvania State School Board, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the local school board, the superintendent, the building principal. Through elections and referendums, the general public has a small amount of input and control.