The school board sets the direction of the district, ensures that it is properly administered, establishes policy and represents the education interests of the community. The superintendent is the district’s chief executive officer (CEO) who carries out policy and day-to-day administration of the schools.
No individual board member has any power or authority and must never attempt to act as an administrator of the school system. Board members can act only as a group. No single board member has the right to make any decision for the rest of the board. The only time board members may transact any business is when they meet in a legally convened session.
Arkansas school boards are authorized to:
- Prescribe the form of school organization, such as grade levels for elementary, middle and high schools
- Specify the size, type, style, quality and location of district buildings, within Arkansas Department of Education guidelines and with its approval
- Choose the superintendent and approve the hiring of teachers, subject to state licensing requirements
- Determine the types and amount of school equipment
- Decide what will be taught in order to meet or exceed state standards
- Determine the extent of student transportation
- Adopt appropriate policies and procedures that are consistent with the law for students, staff, parents and volunteers
More specifically, a board of education is obligated to:
- Comply with state and federal laws and the policies and regulations of state education agencies
- Determine the district’s education philosophy and goals
- Choose the superintendent and work constructively with him or her
- Contribute to improving the education opportunities of every child in the district
- Develop, adopt and regularly review policies that will attract and keep the personnel who can promote the district’s education aims
- Follow a budgeting process and adopt policies and procedures to ensure financials are legally and effectively managed
- Review and approve an annual audit of the school district
- Provide appropriate and sound physical facilities
- Appraise district activities in relation to established goals and objectives
In 2009, the Legislature revised the statute outlining the powers and duties of school board members. Click here for § 6-13-620 which describes what board members may do in their elected roles. In 2011, the Legislature passed a requirement that school board members receive training in how to read and interpret an audit. That law, now Act 1213, is linked here. The law that addresses board training and reimbursement is § 6-13-629, which is linked here.
The public expects high standards of its elected officials, and school board service is no exception. Arkansas school board members are expected to act in the best interests of students, parents, staff and other community residents. They should be aware of and follow the laws that address nepotism and conflict of interest, and they must file financial disclosure forms.
To aid Arkansas school board members, we have linked related documents for easy reference.
Statement of Financial Interest
School board members annually must file by January 31 a Statement of Financial Interest, and candidates must file it as well; see “Statement of Financial Interest” under “School Board Candidate ” at the Arkansas Ethics Commission website (http://www.arkansasethics.com/).
Arkansas Department of Education Rules and Regulations Governing Ethical Guidelines and Prohibitions for Educational Administrators, Employees, Board Members and Other Parties (November 2011)
The guidelines set forth prohibitions for board members regarding doing business with the school district on which they serve on the board; discussing or voting on matters in which the board member has a direct or indirect interest; and family members of board members having business interests with the school district.
Arkansas Department of Education Rules Governing the Code of Ethics for Arkansas Educators (September 2010)
These rules define standards of professional conduct and outline procedures for investigations and enforcement of the Code of Ethics.
The first question a school board candidate should ask is “why am I really running for school board?” It may be hard to imagine, but some people run for school board to “get rid of someone” or because they have a personal agenda they wish to fulfill. These are not good intentions when running for the school board.
Serving on an Arkansas school board is serious business. In fact, tougher state accountability laws and rules can result in removal from office of entire school boards. School boards in Arkansas are expected to fulfill the roles and responsibilities outlined in 6-13-620. Click here to view ASBA's Candidate Guide for more information.
To be eligible to run for a school board position, you must be a qualified voter residing in the school district, and in the respective zone if members are elected from zones. You may not be an employee of the district (a family member employed by the district does not disqualify you from running for office).
School board candidate qualifications:
- Must be a qualified elector of the school district served whose name has been filed and certified by the county clerk of the county in which the school district is domiciled for administrative purposes ACA §§6-13-616, 6-14-111
- Must be a U.S. citizen Amendment 51, §6
- Must be an Arkansas resident Amendment 51, §6
- Must be a resident of the district and respective electoral zone if elected from zones ACA §§6-13-631
- Must not be an employee of the school district served ACA §6-13-616
- Must not claim the right to vote in another county or state Amendment 51, §6
- Must not presently be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction Amendment 51, §6
- Must never have been convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, forgery, or other infamous crime Article 5, §9
The School Board Elections tab contains additional information on candidate requirements and timelines.
To run for school board, visit your county clerk’s office to request a packet of material about running for office.
- In even years, the annual school election is held with either the Preferential Primary or the General election
- The date that would be designated as the preferential primary election or the general election in odd-numbered years if a general election was held
- Candidate petitions and filing dates are available from the 2019 school board election calendar found on the Secretary of State’s website and the Arkansas Department of Education's School Election Timeline Commissioner Memo.
- Candidates are required to make specific timely financial filings. Information about those requirements can be found on the Arkansas Ethics Commission website.
- Candidate needs to gather 20 signatures of qualified registered voters from his/her district on petition and submit by the deadline
- A write-in candidate may submit a notice of intent to be a candidate instead of the petition with signatures by the deadline
- Runoffs, if needed, are held four weeks after the election
The Board Candidates tab contains specific information on qualifications.