In my last article I indicated that I would spend this year writing about ISBA’s legislative platform. I plan to break that into four main topics. In the May issue of the SLATE, I wrote about the actual resolution process – who can submit, when resolutions are submitted, and the process resolutions go through before being presented to the full membership. In this issue I will focus on debate and deliberation of resolutions and voting on resolutions. In the fall, I will write about turning any resolutions passed by the membership into legislation and the final article, early next year, will focus on what happens if the law passes or fails.
Question: Who is Allowed to Vote on ISBA Resolutions?
Answer: The ISBA bylaws allow for each school district member of ISBA to deliberate and vote on resolutions. There is a formula in the bylaws that allows for a block of votes for each school district. That block is based on several strata of student populations.
I should note that there is a committee that is currently reviewing the bylaw as it relates to voting and there may be a proposed amendment to that particular bylaw. Even if an amendment is proposed, there will still be a block of votes for each school district.
Question: Does That Mean That Each Board Member is Allowed to Vote Individually?
Answer: Yes and no. Each school district is given one ballot. That ballot allows for each school district to have a block of votes. The school district can choose to vote their entire block as a no vote, a yes vote, or split the vote. So, if the individuals on any particular board are not in agreement with their votes, they can split the votes on their ballot.
Question: When Does Debate and Voting Occur?
Answer: Debate and voting occurs during the Business Session at the Annual Convention.
Question: Does the School District Need to Be Present to Debate and/or Vote?
Answer: Yes. At least one board member from the district needs to be present, in person, in order for the school district to cast a ballot. One board member can vote the entire block for the entire board.
Any and all board members can debate any given resolution. Each person who wishes to debate is allowed three minutes to express their opinion. That same person can speak a second time after all other members who wish to speak have been given that opportunity. Each resolution can only be debated for thirty minutes total.
Question: Can Anyone Besides a Board Member Debate For or Against a Resolution?
Answer: Yes. However, a board member must first come to the microphone and ask that their time be yielded to another person. For instance, a board member may ask that they yield their time to their superintendent. It is important to remember that if the superintendent speaks on behalf of a board member that the board member would then not be allowed another three minutes for themselves – they have also yielded their own time.
Question: Can a Board Vote by Proxy?
Answer: No. There is no provision in the ISBA bylaws that will allow for a proxy vote. I presume the reason for that is because much debate and deliberation occurs on the floor of the Business Session. If board members are present during the Business Session to hear the debate and discussion, they may change their votes based on that discussion. Therefore, in order for a board to have a voice in the resolution process, at least one member from that board needs to be present at the Business Meeting to case the votes for the entire board.
Question: Should the Entire Board Review the Resolutions Prior to the Business Session?
Answer: Yes. If the entire board is unable to attend the convention, it is important for the board to discuss the resolutions prior to the Business Session. During that discussion, the entire board can direct those members who will be attending the Business Session how they wish them to cast the votes on their ballot. Without a discussion by the entire board, the members in attendance will simply vote as they wish which may not necessarily be how other members of their local board may feel.
Question: When Are the Voting Results Tabulated and Reported to the Membership?
Answer: Tabulations and voting occur during the Business Session. ISBA staff tabulates the votes as soon as debate ends for each resolution. Most results are available to those in attendance before the Business Session is over. The last one or two resolution results that may not have been completed at the conclusion of the Business Session are announced at the next General Session.
For those board members who were unable to attend the Business Session, ISBA staff sends a formal email sometime after the Annual Convention that identifies the outcome of all resolutions.
Question: What Happens With the Resolutions Once They Pass or Fail?
Answer: If a resolution fails, it does not move any further. The school district or region who originally submitted the resolution may choose to resubmit it the following year or they may drop the idea altogether.
If a resolution passes, it will be in effect for two years. Some legislation will require ISBA staff to work with another state agency, some will require rulemaking, and some will require legislation. The ISBA staff will work with the school district and the ISBA attorneys to craft rules or legislation that outlines the elements contained in the resolution or to work with the other agency.
I will discuss this in greater detail in the next issue. However, those resolutions that were passed will then become ISBA’s legislative platform for the next two years or until they are passed.
I hope you can see the importance of the Business Session at the Annual Convention and the impact it has on ISBA’s activities during the legislative session. Your voice is important to establishing that platform and we hope to see your school district represented at the next Business Session.