Serving on Your Local School Board

Are you considering becoming a school board member? Or perhaps you’d just like to learn what school boards and individual school directors do. This is the place to get started.
View the powerpoint slides

Who are school directors?

Washington state’s public school districts are governed by publicly elected school boards. These board members—called “school directors”—are citizens just like you! They are parents and grandparents, young people and senior citizens, and diverse community members from all walks of life.

There is great value in diversity on a school board. Each member brings their varying experiences and backgrounds to inform good decision making with a spirit of teamwork.

What does a school board do?

School directors work together to oversee the school district. As a board, their primary responsibilities are:

  • Hire, supervise and evaluate the superintendent
  • Set the vision, mission and strategic goals for the district
  • Review, revise and adopt policies
  • Establish and oversee the budget
  • Serve as community representatives
  • Monitor the district’s progress towards its goals

How to run for your local school board

The WA Secretary of State’s website provides guidance and resources to guide you through the process of determining what positions are up for election, whether you are eligible to run for office, and how to navigate the process.

Additionally, each county provides information specific to your region. Look up the website address for your county.

The guide to serving on your local school board

The Serving on Your Local School Board guide provides background on the history of public education in the United States and the key roles and responsibilities of school boards.

WA School Board Standards

The Washington School Board Standards are intended for use by local school boards and individual directors as a common framework for school board governance. Two sets of standards were developed to encourage school boards and individual school directors to subscribe to the highest levels of professional and personal conduct and performance.

The standards identify the elements of good governance and effective board leadership as drawn from best practices and current research. They provide shared understanding of what constitutes good governance. They also validate and affirm the importance of the school board’s role in ensuring student success.

Illustrations courtesy of the Oregon School Boards Association

Want to be a school director?

Here’s how to get started:

  1. For information on how to file, check the Washington Secretary of State’s website under the Candidates tab, call (360) 902-4180 or (800) 448-4881, or email elections@sos.wa.gov.

  2. Find out which positions are up for election and verify that you are eligible to run for the office. You must be a registered voter and live within your school district boundaries. Some school director positions require that you live within a certain director area, so check to be sure you’re qualified. Your local county elections department or school district office can help verify that you are eligible.

  3. File during filing week, May 17–21, 2021. Candidates may file for an office online or in person at the local elections office.

  4. Be aware of state requirements for all candidates and elected officials to file a financial disclosure statement and report all campaign finances to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). Annual filing is required if elected. More information can be found at: pdc.wa.gov/learn.

Staff contacts

Ready to learn more?

Visit the new school directors webpage