OTTUMWA — There will be five open seats on the Ottumwa school board in the election in November, and those interested in the positions have until 5 p.m. Sept. 19 to file their nomination papers.

Michael Carpenter, Gary Granneman, Mike Dalbey, and Board President Leisa Walker have all reached the end of their terms. A seventh seat has been vacant since Bill Allen’s departure in August. The board will appoint his replacement on Sept. 9, and the appointee will serve until the elections.

Those interested in running must submit a nomination petition and a notarized affidavit of candidacy to the school board secretary. The petition must have at least 50 signatures. Both forms are available online at the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

The board and the state provide a number of tips and guidelines for those interested in the position. Any eligible voter belonging to the district is allowed to run, but if they are currently earning more than $6,000 from the district they must resign from that position before they are sworn in. Employees of other districts or area education agencies are welcome to run, so long as they are a member of the community. District non-residents are not eligible – Bill Allen’s move from Ottumwa was what resulted in his removal from the board.

According to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, if a candidate intends to raise or spend more than $1,000 on their campaign, they must register a candidate committee with the Ethics Board within 10 days of surpassing the $1,000 threshold.

Those running for the board should also be prepared for serious time commitments. Apart from the board’s public biweekly meetings, new board members should also expect additional closed meetings, correspondence with the public and other members of the board, as well as the visibility that comes with being a publicly-elected official.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, and polls are open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

As a school board member, candidates will be responsible for managing the district’s funds, assessing the conduct of the superintendent and other appointed district officials, engaging with members of the community, and other responsibilities that pertain to the district’s function and well-being. Most recently, the board approved an architecture firm that will handle the design of the district’s planned north side elementary school.

Further information can be found on the Ottumwa Schools website under “Board” or on the Iowa Association of School Boards website, www.ia-sb.org. Campaign ethics guidelines can be found at https://ethics.iowa.gov.

Jack Langland can be reached at jlangland@ottumwacourier.com.

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