Bill would move school board elections to November

LANSING, Mich. — School districts would have to conduct all school board elections in November starting in 2012 if the state Legislature approves a bill now under consideration, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service. Currently districts may conduct elections in November or May.

Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, introduced House Bill 4006. He said it would save districts money and increase voter turnout by adding school board elections to the gubernatorial and presidential election ballots and splitting the cost with other entities, MIRS reported. The districts could still conduct millage and bond elections in May.

The Michigan Association of School Boards opposes the legislation as anti-local control, Peter Spadafore, assistant director of government relations, told the House Redistricting and Elections Committee, according to MIRS. He also said the cost savings may not be as high as estimated, particularly if a district conducts a millage election in May and then also must pay to be included in the general election that November, MIRS reported.

The House Fiscal Agency estimated the cost of school board elections in November to be $5,000 to $10,000, while running a stand-alone election costs $25,000 to $50,000, according to MIRS.

County clerks spoke for and against the measure, MIRS reported, with Kent County’s Mary Hollinrake saying she was concerned about the November ballot becoming too long, and Macomb County’s Carmella Sabaugh saying the bills would mean a $400,000 annual savings in Macomb County as well as higher voter turnout on school funding issues.

Michigan Information & Research Service Inc., “Which month costs more for school elections?” (Subscription required)

MichiganVotes, “2011 House Bill 4006 (Require school elections be in November to revise details in the state election law to conform with the election consolidation provisions proposed by House Bill 4005)”