Last Modified: Wednesday, August 06, 2014 11:39 AM
More than 30 potential candidates for the Calcasieu Parish School Board heard from local officials Tuesday on how to qualify for the Nov. 4 election, what to do when running a campaign and the responsibilities that come with the position.
A group of business and industry leaders known as the Committee for Better Schools in Calcasieu Parish hosted the event. Paul Bonin, who heads the committee, said they organized the meeting to encourage, inform and support residents who are interested in running a campaign.
Bonin said six of the 15 current School Board members are not running for re-election.
Qualifying for the November ballot is Aug. 20-22. Calcasieu Clerk of Court Lynn Jones said candidates can qualify at the clerk’s office, 1000 Ryan St., 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Jones said there is a $115 qualifying fee for a non-party candidate and a $230 qualifying fee for a Democratic or Republican candidate.
Three days after qualifying, candidates must fill out a personal financial disclosure form, he said. They also have to submit campaign finance forms by Oct. 6. Those who miss the deadline will be fined up to $100 per day, Jones said.
“There’s a lot of responsibility you have to be aware of,” he said.
He said candidates can visit the Louisiana Ethics Administration website — www.ethics.state.la.us — to get more information on disclosing finances.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said a School Board seat is one of the most important elected positions, and that it requires time away from family and work.
“You’re dealing with the future of our country, quite frankly,” he said. “You’re making a decision that you want to invest in the community.”
While social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made campaigning easier, Kleckley said there is “nothing more valuable than knocking on doors.” He said candidates should also know how often voters in their districts cast ballots. It is critical to have others working alongside a campaign.
Kleckley said candidates must know what the issues are, but that it is more important to have a solution they can offer voters.
“It’s easy to complain and gripe,” he said. “But how would you solve that problem? That’s what people want to hear.”
During election day, candidates cannot post signs in rights of way within 600 feet of the polling location’s entrance, unless it is on private property.
Calcasieu Registrar of Voters Angie Quienalty said that also applies during early voting.
Jones said it is important to have poll watchers in each precinct to make sure voters cast their ballots. He said the clerk’s office cannot give candidates any election results until after 8 p.m. on election day.
Local attorney Cade Cole said a School Board member has four main duties: appointing a superintendent, overseeing the budget and fiscal issues, drawing various boundary lines and managing construction projects.
He said the entire board meets one Tuesday each month. There are quarterly committee meetings, including administrative, budget, curriculum and insurance committees.
Cole said the board has an annual operating budget and makes decisions on levying taxes, calling tax elections, and opening or closing schools. The board also appoints the school system’s chief financial officer and a sales tax collector for the parish.
Cole said board members are not involved in personnel decisions. The superintendent and principals make hiring and firing decisions.
He said there are 64 schools, more than 32,000 students and nearly 5,000 employees within the Calcasieu Parish school system.