Frequently Asked Questions
The following information was provided by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
What is a school board meeting?
School Board meetings are official business meetings at which the School Board meets in their official capacity to deliberate and take action on the school district's business. Following the Board’s adopted Policy 006 Meetings and based on the PA Public School Code section 4-421, the School Board must meet at least once every two months, at specified times and places, to conduct the business of the school district.
The PA Public School Code, the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, the School Board’s adopted parliamentary procedure (such as Robert’s Rules of Order), and the School Board’s adopted policies establish the rules and requirements for how the Board meets and conducts its business. According to the Sunshine Act (65 Pa. C.S. Sec. 702), a meeting is “held for the purpose of deliberating agency business or taking official action.” The role of the School Board at meetings is to consider and discuss the information presented on the Board meeting agenda and to take official action by voting on motions made regarding that business, for example, approving the hiring of personnel recommended by the administration.
What is a public-school board meeting?
The Sunshine Act requires that official action and deliberations by a quorum of the Board and most Board committees occur at a public meeting. Boards must also announce to the public, in advance, when and where meetings will be held for the public to attend and have the opportunity to comment before the Board takes official action. The Sunshine Act permits school boards to discuss a limited number of items in a closed meeting or “out of sunshine.” Such arrangements are called executive sessions and may be held only for the following reasons:
- Personnel matters.
- Information, strategy, and negotiation related to the negotiation or arbitration of a collective bargaining agreement.
- Consideration of the lease or purchase of a property.
- Consult with an attorney or professional adviser about active or pending litigation.
- Discussing agency business which, if conducted in public, would violate a legal privilege or lead to the disclosure of information or confidentiality protected by law.
- Discuss specific public safety issues if disclosure of the information would be reasonably likely to jeopardize or threaten public safety, preparedness, or public protection.
The Sunshine Act also permits school board directors to attend conferences or seminars, such as training sessions and informational briefings, without the public present.
How does the community participate in local board meetings?
The Sunshine Act and the Board’s adopted Policy 903, Public Participation in Board Meetings, require the Board to allow the public to attend public meetings and provide a reasonable opportunity for residents or taxpayers (or other individuals who may be designated in Policy 903 such as students and employees) to provide civil comment “on matters of concern, official action or deliberation which are or may be before the board, prior to taking official action” (65 Pa. C.S. Sec. 710.1).
The district posts Board meeting agendas on the district website in advance of all public Board meetings, in accordance with Policy 006 and the Sunshine Act (65 Pa. C.S. Sec. 709), so that members of the public know what will be presented to the Board at each meeting. The Board may deliberate and take official action on matters not included in a posted agenda only under specific circumstances. (65 Pa. C.S. Sec. 712.1).
How you run for school board?
Please see PSBA’s How to Run for School Board Webpage.
How long do school board members serve?
The Pennsylvania School Code provides that in each school district, nine school directors are elected for four-year terms, with five to be elected in one municipal election and four to be elected two years later in the next municipal election.
Are school board members compensated?
Section 321 of the Public School Code provides that school directors shall serve without pay, except as otherwise provided in the School Code. 24 P.S. § 3-321. The only exception to that rule is that in third- and fourth-class school districts, a school director can be elected to the office of board secretary or treasurer and paid. 24 P.S. §§ 4-404, 4-432, 4-438.
How are school board vacancies filled?
Section 315 of the Public School Code provides that when a vacancy occurs due to a school director’s death, resignation, moving out of the district or out of their election region or other reasons, the remaining members of the school board, if still constituting a majority of the statutory membership, must appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy within 30 days of when the vacancy occurs.
What are the requirements to be a school board member?
An appointee must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and a resident of the district for at least one (1) year before the date of their appointment. If the district elects school directors through a regional or combination region/at-large election plan, an appointee for a provincial seat must reside in the region, they will be representing. The appointee must refrain from holding any other public offices designated as incompatible with the office of the school director or must resign from the incompatible office before being sworn into a school board seat. A person convicted of a felony or other crime involving deceitful conduct is not eligible to hold school board office.