As other states mull results, recruiting starts for WI school board candidates
Thursday, November 9, 2023
While many other states analyze school board races from this week, Wisconsin candidates will soon begin filing paperwork for elections next spring. An education group says there's a need for people to run in response to a more divisive era.
In December, school board candidates can begin gathering petitions ahead of the 2024 primary.
Heather DuBois Bourenane, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Education Network, said some school districts around the state have dealt with the more politically toxic atmosphere seen elsewhere in the United States.
She said that does create a void.
"And we have seen a number of veteran school board leaders decide that they've had enough," said Bourenane, "and aren't seeking re-election in some places."
She said that's why now is a good time for communities to recruit candidates to avoid any last-minute scrambles if more current board members choose not to run.
Bourenane added that despite some of the recent rhetoric, Wisconsin voters in large part haven't shown great interest in supporting candidates pushing divisive issues such as book bans.
However, Bourenane said they have seen some candidates who struck a moderate tone on the campaign trail but wound up being more extreme after winning an election.
She said at the end of the day, voters want people who care about helping schools and students, not someone solely focused on "making noise."
She said she hopes people on the fence about running keep that in mind.
"We really need those good guys to jump in and say, 'Hey, I'm ready to step up and lead this community,'" said Bourenane. "And I think folks will be surprised at how well received that message is."
The Wisconsin Public Education Network doesn't endorse candidates but does provide guidance for those considering running.
Meanwhile, Bourenane said voters will be busy deciding other education-related matters next year, suggesting there will be plenty of school referenda next spring.
She said despite a state funding boost this year, aid still isn't keeping pace with inflation, forcing continued belt tightening among districts.
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