Now that the spring election of school board members has occurred, school boards that have not already held their annual school board organizational meetings must concentrate on complying with requirements for such meetings.  At those meetings, school boards elect officers but may also conduct additional business (e.g., appointing a WASB delegate, appointing committee members, and determining dates of regular board meetings).

Common and union high school district school boards comprised of more than three (3) board members are required to adhere to the following statutory requirement:

In the case of a school board with more than 3 members, the school board shall annually elect a school district president, vice president, treasurer and clerk from among its members at a school board meeting held on or within 30 days after the 4th Monday in April. Wis. Stat. § 120.05(1)(c).

In other words, those school boards could have begun holding their organizational meetings on April 22, 2024.  For any school boards that have not yet held those meetings, they must do so on or before May 22, 2024.

Unified school districts are subject to the same requirement, except that the school board secretary “need not be a member of the school board.”  Wis. Stat. § 120.43(1).

A different rule applies to 3-member school boards:

In the case of a 3-member school board, the school district president, treasurer and clerk shall constitute the school board.  At the first election of a 3-member school board, the clerk shall be elected for a one-year term, the treasurer for a 2-year term and the president for a 3-year term. Wis. Stat. § 120.05(1)(b).

As indicated in that statute section, school boards with only three (3) members do not have a vice president.

The basic duties of a school board’s president, vice president (as applicable), treasurer, and clerk can be found in Wis. Stats. §§ 120.15-120.17.

When an annual school board organizational meeting is held, it is unnecessary to have all existing board members present; however, at least a quorum of such members must vote in order for officers to be elected.  In addition, an officer can only be elected if he/she receives a majority of such votes.

Prior to voting on officers, school boards must nominate individuals for the officer positions.  If the individual nominated does not wish to accept such a nomination, their name need not be removed from the voting process for that office, but it is advisable to do so.

School boards have the option to conduct votes for officers using standard voting procedures (e.g., voice votes or roll call votes) or to conduct such votes by secret ballot.  See Wis. Stat. § 19.88(1).  However, school boards should consult existing board policies to determine whether a specific method is required.  Regardless of whether a policy exists that specifies the method required, if secret ballots will be used, it is advisable to determine the procedure for casting and tabulating votes in advance of the meeting.

If school boards have questions about the nomination and voting procedures that they will be using, they are encouraged to reach out to legal counsel before their organizational meetings, which must take place on or before May 22, 2024.

For questions regarding this article, please contact the author,

or your Renning, Lewis & Lacy attorney.

Laura E. Pedersen

Laura E. Pedersen | (844) 626-0909

Our legal updates provide general information only and are not intended to provide legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship.