Seeking a few good school board members

It’s good for democracy’s sake to have competition between candidates in any election, and therefore we’re glad some local public school districts have that for Tuesday’s election.

In other districts, there is just one candidate per opening, which means we already know who will join the board. That’s OK — not ideal, but common.

But Lake Placid has an odd situation this year. It has three openings on its school board but only two candidates. That means an opening for a write-in candidate, but we haven’t yet heard of anyone out there asking voters to write his or her name on the ballot. (UPDATE: Since writing this, it has come to our attention that Daniel Marvin of Lake Placid is seeking the position as a write-in candidate.)

That could be awkward. People are likely to write in people who may not want the unpaid but heavy-duty task. If a willing winner cannot be found, it may fall to the board to appoint someone. That’s far from ideal. School boards should rise from the community’s grass roots and represent a diversity of interests. When board members do the picking, they sometimes tend to pick like-minded individuals who will agree with them. This isn’t always the case — we’ve seen it go both ways — but in general, a fully elected board is preferable.

But that’s a minor concern compared to the bigger-picture question that comes to our minds: In a community that puts so much value and attention on children, and that invests so much in them (spending far more per pupil than neighboring districts), why in such a place can we not find seven people willing and able to serve as school board members?

Maybe that question will be answered as so many others are — with the passage of time proving that this board member deficit was just a one-year fluke. We hope so, but nevertheless, we strongly encourage people in all communities to ask themselves whether they could and should run for school board. It’s an essential job.

In addition to board candidates, you’ll be asked to approve your district’s budget for the coming academic year as well as bus replacements and annual library allotments.

Lake Placid, despite its shortfall of board candidates, has more at stake than other local districts in this year’s election — a capital project of up to $19.16 million. We have previously said we thought the building needs that project would address seemed legitimate, and we stand by that.

More importantly, please vote tomorrow in your school district election. See today’s paper for polling places and times, as well as a summary of what’s at stake in each district.