A total of 1,018 individuals are running for school board positions next Tuesday in Oregon -- the highest number since 2009 -- according to a survey conducted by the Oregon School Boards Association.
The upswing in candidates marks a complete reversal from May 2015, when 817 people ran for school board. That was the lowest such total in a decade. Over the last few months OSBA has conducted an awareness campaign (www.getonboardoregon.org) about the importance of volunteer school board service. There are 802 open positions across the state, and 553 incumbents are running. The percentage of school board incumbents seeking office again -- 54 percent -- is the lowest in at least 12 years. That means that nearly half -- or potentially more -- of all school board members statewide will be newly elected this year.
Jim Green, OSBA's executive director, said the association welcomes a new crop of board members.
"Schools are constantly evolving, so it's important to see a mix of both experience and fresh perspective at the board level," Green said. "In our view there is no more important public service than safeguarding the future of our young people."
Despite the surge in candidates, nearly three-quarters of all races are uncontested. Six percent of races have no candidates, and 68.5 percent have one candidate.
School board elections are held every two years in May.
OSBA is a member services agency for more than 200 locally elected boards serving school districts, education service districts and community colleges. It also provides services to charter schools and their boards.