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John Fogle

No fear of filing: New deadline means new ramifications

Kentucky School Advocate
February 2020

The August deadline to file to run for school board office is probably hardwired in folks’ minds, but the legislature has changed the deadline to “not later than the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June.” For the upcoming 2020 board elections, that deadline is June 2. This means anyone wishing to run for school board, including members whose terms are set to expire, new candidates and appointed members who must run to serve out the remainder of a term, must file by June 2. Because of the date change, please look for our candidate guidance on our website in late March or early April. 

There are other ramifications to keep in mind as the new filing deadline approaches. Under KRS 160.210, county school boards are required to create board division boundaries “containing integral voting precincts and as equal in population insofar as is practicable.” 

The statute’s key requirements: 

1) in order to avoid impermissible dilution of voting power and comply with the statute the population of voting divisions should ideally not vary by more than 10 percent and;

2) there is a preference, but not a requirement, that school board divisions should align with county precincts. 

But what about timing? The statute also has a clear rule that divisions are not to be changed more frequently than five years after the last change, unless the need for a change is prompted by a merger or annexation. In the case of a petition by residents to the Kentucky Board of Education for a realignment of divisions, the statute says that changes cannot be made after Aug. 1 in a year in which a county board member is to be elected. 

Similarly, under KRS 116.200 school districts must provide county clerks with documentation of any changes in district boundaries “immediately” if a change is made within 60 days of Aug. 1. Both of these deadlines are “keyed” to the former August filing deadline. For the same reason, it is recommended that any changes to county school district divisions should be completed before the new June filing deadline. 

While county school boards are not required to change voting divisions based on the U.S. Census, when the census data becomes available in March 2021 it would be an opportune time for county districts to review any disparities among divisions. That would give districts a good deal of time to evaluate where they stand in advance of the 2022 election.

The new filing deadline also is referenced in KRS 118.375(2) which says that if a vacancy occurs after the filing deadline (which is now June) but not less than three months before the election in an election year, the filing deadline for that seat is extended to the second Tuesday in August. As applied to this year’s election cycle, if there is a board vacancy after June 2, and before Aug. 3 (three months before the Nov. 2 election), the deadline is Aug. 11 to file to run for the remainder of the term.

A final cautionary note: With the filing deadline changed to a time when many school districts are on summer break, board candidates need to keep in mind that the prohibition on soliciting or accepting campaign donations or services from school district employees remains in effect. Those prohibitions apply whether or not school is in session. But that’s for another column.

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