How much does a school board election cost?
An election Tuesday will seat three members on the Fort Dodge Community School District board.
The election itself is paid for by the school district.
“Any election that has a school issue on it, there is a fee we are charged by the county in order to run the election,” Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, said.
Previous elections to both renew and increase the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy cost the school district $11,440 in December and $10,877 in February.
“That’s about average,” Brandon Hansel, FDCSD director of financial services, said.
Hansel said the county pays for the election and then bills the school district for the total cost.
“The county has to pay for the workers at each of the polling places, publication, printing of the ballots, postage for absentees, just general administration,” he said. “The county auditor is actually the elections commissioner, so she’s in charge of all of the elections. When there’s a national election or presidential election, the county runs all of that. If it’s a local election, they bill whatever group is leading that election.”
Elections are an item in the district’s budget, Hansel said.
“We have an election expense line item and every time there’s a school board election we budget about $12,000. That’s all general fund.”
According to Van Zyl, rules regarding when a school district can hold an election have changed.
“I believe the state, prior to my getting here, changed the number of times you have elections in order to save some money,” he said. “It doesn’t really save money, in all honesty. It creates some differences in how things are elected because this year we have three people that would be up for election, next year we’ll have four, so it really can make some changes on a board when you’re looking for some consistency and some longevity to make sure some plans in areas get carried out.”
Though the school district pays for the election, specific protocols must still be followed.
“There are state requirements as far as how we have to have it posted,” Van Zyl said. “Just like for the city elections, you have to have the names turned in on time. We have to have certain polling areas opened and publicized.”
The school district, funded by the state, cannot campaign for or against any of the candidates, Van Zyl said.
“We, as a school district, can provide information on candidates, but we can’t necessarily say, one way or another, who we like,” he said. “Individuals, if they walked up and asked a teacher or employee of the district who they’re voting for, that individual can tell them but we can’t do anything as a school district that shows favoritism.”
The district can inform its faculty and staff about the election, though, and has information on its website about the candidates.
“As with any election our job can only be to inform, provide the information and answer questions people might have,” Van Zyl said. “Association groups of our school district could throw support behind (a candidate), but they’re working as their association rather than a representative of the school district.”
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.