New Miami Schools comes up short on school board members: What happens next?

One of the region’s smallest school districts faces a rare problem of filling a school board seat no one wanted to seek in the last election.

Butler County’s New Miami Schools – just north of Hamilton with an enrollment of less than 700 students – saw only two candidates on November’s ballot for three openings on the district’s five-member school board.

The open seat will now have to be filled by appointment of a candidate, and this week New Miami officials began advertising for applicants.

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To have a publicly elected school board seat remain open because no one placed their name on the ballot is rare but not unheard of, said Van Keating, attorney for the Ohio School Board Association (OSBA), whose members include almost all of the state’s 613 school boards.

“This is not unusual and happens in about two or three districts a year statewide,” said Keating, who is in his third decade with the OSBA.

Starting on Jan. 1 after the November election, school boards are not allowed to take any action regarding seeking applicants to appoint to an open seat unfilled by election for 10 days. Then on the board’s first regularly scheduled meeting after the 10 days, the board may then begin to take action toward to reviewing applicants for the appointment seat.

In Ohio, board of education applicants must be a U.S. citizen, reside within the school district for at least 30 days and be of 18 years of age.

Other qualifications are determined by local school boards who advertise for applicants, review candidate qualifications and then interview the applicants they choose.

The four New Miami school board members will then vote in their public meeting for the candidate they want to fill two years of the normally four-year term Ohio board members serve.

Keating said if a four-member school board splits its vote on its appointment vote, then a county probate judge will then decide who will fill the fifth seat.

Similarly, if for whatever reasons a school board does not act within 30 days, a probate judge will decide on the board appointment.

Ohio school boards oversee public school districts, hire a superintendent and treasurer, approves policies and makes the final decisions on how to spend millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money regarding the operation of local schools.

School board members’ pay per meeting ranges from $80 to $125.

New Miami School officials did not respond to messages seeking comment, but district Treasurer Robin Bonar has posted a notice on the district’s website advertising stating “anyone interested in applying for the open New Miami Schools Board member position should send a letter of interest to Robin Bonar, Treasurer; New Miami Local Schools; 600 Seven Mile Avenue; Hamilton, OH 45011 before January 17th, 2020.”

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