What is the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC)?
The SBNC is a volunteer committee whose members are elected by each of the Edgemont civic associations. The SBNC is sponsored by the ECC.
What is the Purpose of the SBNC?
The purpose of the SBNC is to encourage qualified residents to come forward as candidates for the Board of Education; to interview such candidates and to endorse those individuals who in the Committee’s judgment can best serve the needs of the school district; and finally, to let the public know who they have endorsed.
How is the SBNC Comprised?
The School Board Nominating Committee is constituted by a process that is based on community participation. In December of each year, the SBNC, under the auspices of ECC, sends two letters to every Edgemont household. One letter invites residents to submit nominations for the Board of Education; the second letter invites residents to submit nominations for representatives to the SBNC to their respective civic associations. Civic associations nominate residents in their area to serve on the SBNC. Each civic association nominates 1-2 voting representatives plus 1-2 alternates. These nominees are then elected as members of the SBNC at an annual meeting of their respective civic association.
The SBNC is comprised of 2 voting representatives from each of the 8 civic associations, ECC, plus a representative from the Edgemont High School student government, which results in a total of 19 voting members. A voting member may serve up to two consecutive years on the SBNC. After that the member may not serve again until a period of three years has passed from his/her last date of service.
In addition, each civic association elects 1-2 alternates. Alternates do not vote, and they do not necessarily participate in the interview process. The role of the alternate is to replace a voting member if that member becomes unable to serve.
Who Can Serve on the SBNC?
To qualify for membership on the SBNC a person
- Shall be a resident of the School District for at least three years
- Shall not be the spouse of a current School Board member
- Shall not be the President or Vice President of a civic association
- Shall, if the spouse of a prior member, wait until a period of one year has passed from the last date of service of such prior member
- Shall not have served a consecutive two year term within the last three years
How Does the SBNC Process Work?
The SBNC begins meeting in October to begin the recruitment process. The Committee is briefed by a current or previous member of the Board of Education. Members are required to attend a minimum of three Board of Education meetings; many attend more. In December, the SBNC sends a letter to the community inviting nominations for the Board of Education, and providing notice of the date, time and place of the Open Meeting in January to announce nominations for the Board of Education. After the January Open Meeting interview meetings with the candidates are scheduled. The interviews take place in March and are private. Endorsements are made in March at the completion of the interview schedule. The SBNC announces the Endorsed Candidates. A Candidates Forum is held in April, and the election is held in May.
Do I Have a Chance to Evaluate the Candidates?
Yes. Each year in April, the SBNC holds a Candidates Forum. The Candidates Forum is the candidates’ opportunity to present to the community so that voters can make their own determination about the candidates. Every candidate running for election to the Board of Education is invited to participate. The Candidates Forum is a question and answer format moderated by the Chair of the SBNC. The Chair solicits questions from the community by notice in The Scarsdale Inquirer. Residents submit questions in advance that they would like to see asked of the candidates. Questions from the audience are not permitted at the Candidates Forum.
What If Someone is Not Endorsed?
There is an underlying assumption in the nominating committee process that all candidates are qualified, which is why there is no stigma associated with not being endorsed. The SBNC endorses candidates who in its judgment will best serve the needs of the school district at the present time.
Why Have a Nominating Process?
A nominating process achieves several things: first, it provides a process for recruiting and recommending qualified residents to serve on the School Board; two, it discourages political contests and one-issue candidates; and three, it makes contested elections, which generally are divisive, less likely.
No system is perfect, but on the whole Edgemont’s nominating process has resulted in excellent leadership for the district. Alden Larson, Edgemont Superintendent from 1966 to 1982, noted that “The SBNC seemed to be very effective and efficient for the process of screening candidates.” Maintaining a strong nominating system should continue to ensure a rigorous and thoughtful process for selecting qualified residents to serve as School Board members.
Does the ECC By-Law Regarding SBNC Nominations Take Away My Civic Association’s Right to Nominate and Elect SBNC Members?
Absolutely not! ECC’s By Law clause is a last resort option that was designed and drafted to come into play only in an instance where it is clearly demonstrated that the civic association for a geographic area is inactive or otherwise failed to designate SBNC nominees.
The SBNC process originally provided for each neighborhood association to designate SBNC members (with 2 further members to be designated directly by ECC, plus a high school representative). While the process was intended to give broad and diverse representation on the SBNC, this process inadvertently resulted in a neighborhood having no representation if its local civic association was inactive or otherwise failed to nominate SBNC members. The amendment is designed to “enfranchise” people disenfranchised by this gap in the SBNC member selection process, by allowing the ECC to receive and act on at-large nominations from a neighborhood when (and only when) the area’s association did not designate any SBNC representatives.
There is no authority in ECC’s By-Laws, nor is there any need for ECC to intercede, to elect SBNC representatives in an area where there is an active civic association. It should also be understood that if anyone wants to prevent the ECC option from being triggered, all they have to do is organize/instigate the inactive civic association into action.
The sole intent of this amendment is to ensure the continued effectiveness of the SBNC process by maintaining the broadest possible participation in the SBNC – nothing more nor less.