Legislation on Filling School Board Vacancies Changed Significantly

We posted previously on public hearings held on a pair of companion bills (Senate Bill 244 and Assembly Bill 325) that would allow the school board president to appoint a person to fill a vacancy on the school board if the remaining school board members do not fill the vacancy within 60 days of the date on which the vacancy first occurs.

Since the public hearings were held, the authors of the bills Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Rep. Tom Weatherston (R-Caledonia) have introduced a pair of companion substitute amendments to these bills that make significant changes.  Under the substitute amendments:

  • The provision allowing a school board president to unilaterally fill a vacancy only applies to the Racine Unified School District and only until April 2016 when it sunsets.
  • Every school board must adopt a policy by July 1, 2016 on how the school board will fill a vacancy if the remaining school board members do not fill the vacancy within 60 days of the date on which the vacancy first exists.
  • Technical changes related to the current law requiring the Racine Unified School Board members to be re-elected to geographically apportioned seats.

WASB views these changes as positive because it allows boards (other than the current Racine Unified Board) to develop their own policies to address vacancies rather than a one size fits all mandate from the state.

The Assembly Education Committee held a scheduled  vote on AB 325 today (Thursday-Sept. 17) at 9:30 am.  The substitute amendment was adopted on a 9-4 vote and the bill, as amended, was recommended for passage, also  on a 9-4 vote.  The Senate Education Committee has not yet announced plans for a vote on the Senate version–SB 244.