There was applause from this corner when the Brainerd School Board tentatively decided to begin videotaping and airing its meetings. A final decision on permanently broadcasting the meetings will be made at a later date. This newspaper also commended Brainerd School District Superintendent Jerry Walseth for taking part in the Brainerd Dispatch's first online "Q and A with..." in which community members asked the superintendent a wide variety of questions.
Since the school district seems to be on a roll we'd like to offer another suggestion for it to consider: Moving its elections to even-numbered, general election years.
The even-year elections invariably draw larger turnouts than the school district elections, in part, because that's when presidential and gubernatorial races are conducted. It takes a lot to motivate people to go to the polls in large numbers and turnout figures indicate school board races - by themselves - often aren't doing the trick.
Most people are generally interested in what's going on in their schools and the chance to vote for school board candidates on the same day they vote for president or for state constitutional officers should increase interest in school board races.
In 2006, voters made decisions on the governor's race, every legislative seat, several statewide constitutional offices as well as county offices such as sheriff and county attorney. Judging from lawn signs and letters to the editors the statewide races didn't detract from voters' interest in nonpartisan county races at all.
Thanks to the Internet, voters have many more sources of information they can access than were available in years gone by. The convenience of Internet sources makes it easier then ever for voters to obtain information on local, state or national issues.
Moving school board elections to even-numbered years will increase voter turnout and voter interest in school issues. The Brainerd School Board should give it a try.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.