Over the last couple of years, school board races have become popular.

We talked to leaders with the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) about why these races are getting so many candidates.

Voters yesterday may have noticed the increased amount of candidates for school boards. We found out this is starting to be a trend across the state.

“What we’ve seen is fortunately for us a growing interest in school board members and school board candidates to very much dialogue with us as teachers,” said Ron Hayes, pace director for the PSEA.

Ron Hayes, the Pace Director for the Northwest Pennsylvania State Education Association said he has seen a rise in interest since the pandemic due to it changing the landscape of education, specifically in Erie.

He explains that school board is a great equalizer because it’s an introduction into the world of politics at a smaller level.

“The folks that are interested in being on the school board in working to find those solutions that we need to make the experience for an Erie student from kindergarten through 12th grade the best possible education they can get with their public tax dollars,” Hayes said.

“School board is one of the only races and positions that are not paid. In city council you’re paid in county council, you’re paid school board is not and so, it’s really a volunteer opportunity you really have to have that passion,” said Daria Devlin, president of the Erie School Board.

Devlin believes that the pandemic highlighted the amount of authority and power that lies within the school board position and has found many people apply whether or not they have a child in the district.

“We were really surprised at the number of applications we received. I think we got like 20 of them, some of them have children, some of them didn’t,” Devlin said.

The Erie School Board President said the current and potential board members are motivated to do what’s best for the district.

“The folks that have come to us have a very, very critical interest in their own students or the future of the students of the city. We have not seen that kind of political leanings,” Devlin explained.

Hayes told us it’s a bold move for so many candidates to put themselves out there to take public criticism and engage in American democracy.