Potential candidates who want to run for one of Ocean County's 77 school board seats up for grabs have until 4 p.m today to file.

Photo by Craig Allen, Townsquare Media
Photo by Craig Allen, Townsquare Media

The non-paid, voluntary positions come with intangible rewards, according to Frank Belluscio, Deputy Executive Director for the New Jersey School Boards Association.

"Involved in that is really setting the goals for your school district, planning strategies and setting policies. Every decision made by a local board of education should be tied to directly advancing student achievement," said Belluscio.

Seeking election to a local school board might not be appealing in light of so many district's facing financial struggles, such as Lakewood, and district's being forced to do more with less money. Belluscio conceded the financial challenges are there.

"As a policy-setting body, as the representatives of the community, the local board of education does set the goals for the district, and it hires the superintendent, and would plan out strategies, setting a priority of perhaps partnering, finding alternative revenue sources, and so forth," Belluscio said. He added, "Everybody knows about the 2-percent tax levy cap. State aid has had very limited growth."

While those interested in serving on a local board of education don't need to be experts in curriculum, budgeting, or law to be an effective member, they should be willing to learn about those subjects, according to Belluscio.

"What you really need is a genuine and sincere interest in the education of students. A board of education acts on the recommendations of its administrators, so the the key point is that you have your top manager, the superintendent, who is very much in line with the goals of the school district, and then you rely on his expertise in acting on his or her recommendations in areas such as curriculum," said Belluscio.

Knowing about the state's standards and how progress is measured is critically important, but school board membership in New Jersey is based on the concept of lay control, according to Belluscio.

He added the New Jersey School Boards Association is the resource for training board members in the state and provides a wide variety of programs to acclimate members to their responsibilities.

New Jersey's school board elections take place in November and April.

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