Another strange summer election season begins in Boise

Summer is school board campaign season — at least in Boise.

Starting today, would-be trustees have two weeks to file for five spots on the Boise School Board.

Yes, it’s complicated. Here’s what’s going on.

Wait, aren’t school board elections in November?

Most are. But Boise, the state’s second-largest district operates under a different calendar — because it uses a governing charter that predates statehood.

Under the charter, candidates file for the ballot in early summer, and elections are held the first Tuesday in September.

When is Boise’s election day?

Sept. 6, with voting at district schools. And yes, election day is the Tuesday after Labor Day. Early voting will begin on Aug. 22, at district headquarters.

What board spots are on the ballot?

Boise’s school board is made up of seven members, not the standard five-member board.

Five board spots are up for grabs:

  • Two six-year terms, for spots now held by board President Dave Wagers and trustee Beth Oppenheimer.
  • A four-year term, for a seat now held by Andy Hawes.
  • A two-year term, for a spot held by Elizabeth Langley.
  • Another two-year term, for a seat held by Steve Schmidt.

What’s up with the different terms?

Generally, Boise school trustee terms run six years, unlike the standard four-year term in most school districts.

Wagers and Oppenheimer are at the end of their six-year terms, so their board spots are on the ballot, right on schedule.

But Hawes, Langley and Schmidt are all recent appointees, picked to fill vacancies that cropped up after Boise’s September 2020 board elections. So now, their three seats are back on the ballot. This allows voters to elect trustees to serve out the remainder of those original six-year board terms.

Would Wagers and Oppenheimer run against each other?

Not directly.

Here again, Boise’s rules are a little bit different.

All candidates for six-year terms are lumped together in a single race. This year, Boise voters will elect two trustees for six-year terms, in a sort of free-for-all election. The top two vote-getters win — no matter how many candidates actually file.

Who’s running?

So far, one candidate has gone public.

Boise High School student activist Shiva Rajbhandari has announced plans to run for the seat now held by Schmidt. (Idaho Education News will track the filings, so check back for updates.)

How long is the filing period?

The filing window closes at 5 p.m. on July 8.

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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