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Election Compliance is Key When Running for a School Board Seat

John Tramontana

By John Tramontana, MASB Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, June 1, 2016

Michigan’s election and compliance laws can be a bit tricky as you begin your campaign to Get On Board. Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned vet, the same laws apply and a refresher always helps.

Once you file to run, you’ll want to determine your obligations under the Campaign Finance Act. If you’re running in a district with less than 2,400 students, you don’t have to report any of your fundraising or expenses, as long as you don’t receive or spend more than $1,000 for the election. But you still have to track them.

If you’re in a district with more than 2,400 students or running for a seat on your Intermediate School District board, you must comply with all Campaign Finance Act filing requirements. That means you have to take four actions.

First, you have to form a candidate committee. It may only consist of you or may include others. You must organize your committee within 10 days of filing and it must include both your first and last names.

Second, you must file a statement of organization with the county clerk’s office within 10 days after forming your committee. You can get the paperwork from the county clerk.

Third, you must designate a financial institution as your official campaign depository. It could be your local bank or credit union. All contributions must be deposited at that institution.

Finally, you have to appoint a treasurer within 10 days of filing. That person can be you. If not, it must be a registered Michigan voter.

A candidate committee discloses its financial records through the filing of campaign statements. A candidate committee for school elections must file a campaign statement, reporting all contributions received and expenditures made. You can qualify for a reporting waiver if you don’t expect to receive or expend more than $1,000 for the election.

You’ll also have to be aware of contribution limits under the law. The maximum amount a person, other than a member of the candidate’s immediate family, can contribute to a school board candidate is limited as follows:

  • If the population of the school district is less than 85,000, the maximum contribution is $1,000.
  • If the school district population is 85,001 to 250,000, the maximum contribution is $2,000.
  • If the district’s population is 250,001 or more, the maximum contribution is $6,800.

Don’t forget to file your campaign statements and strictly adhere to contribution limits. Candidates and board members who don’t comply precisely with the requirements of the Campaign Finance Act are subject to various penalties, which can’t be waived.

If you’re running for re-election, you won’t have to setup your candidate committee again, as long as you didn’t dissolve it after your last election. If you have any questions about your committee, contact your local clerk.

Be sure check out masb.org/GetOnBoard for more tips on running and how to recruit school board candidates.

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