2021 School Board Elections

Get on Board horizontal logoInterested in serving on your K-12 or community college school board? 

The Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) provides information for community members who are interested in serving on their local K-12 or community college school board. School board members are elected by their local communities in an election held the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in odd-numbered years. The next few regular school elections will take place on the following dates:

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021
Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023

IASB develops a toolkit each election cycle that can help interested citizens understand school boards in Iowa and their role, qualifications and steps to become a school board candidate, rewards of school board service and more.

Check out IASB's School Board Elections FAQ document for answers to some of your most pressing questions!

As you consider running in the next school election, think about what board service means to you. You can make a difference for students, your community, and ultimately the future of Iowa. Read testimonials from current board members about what board service means to them. Invest in the future—get on board. 
Ask Me icon For questions, email Tammy Votava.

Get Out the Vote Resources

Selecting a School Board Candidate: 5 Key Considerations
Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Public Service Announcement (PSA)

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Sample Press Release
Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Newspaper Ads
Get Out the Vote Poster
Social Media Graphics to Encourage Voting on Election Day

IASB Get on Board Elections Toolkit


Guide for School Board Candidates
Key Dates
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Educational Opportunities for School Board Candidates and New Board Members
Sample Questions for Candidate Forums
Board Member Testimonials

Iowa Secretary of State's School Elections Resources


Visit the Iowa Secretary of State's (SOS) school elections website for a variety of resources including:
Candidate's Guide
Affidavit of Candidacy
Nomination Petition

Iowa Board of Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Resources

Visit the Iowa Board of Ethics and Campaign Disclosure website for information on topics including:
Political advertising disclaimers
Permitted and prohibited corporate activity
Independent expenditures/in-kind contributions
Duties of a committee treasurer
Civil penalties
Out-of-state contributions
Prohibition in use of public funds for political purposes
Guidelines for campaign fundraising


Key Dates for November 2021 School Board Elections

If you are preparing for the fall school board elections, these key dates can help.

Aug. 23: Candidate filing begins.
Sept. 16: Candidate filing deadline by 5 p.m.
Sept. 21: Candidate withdrawal deadline by 5 p.m. (last day for candidates to withdraw by filing a written request with the school secretary).
Nov. 2: School election day. Polls are open from 7 a.m.–8 p.m.
Nov. 8 or 9: Tier 1 canvass of votes for all school districts: first Monday or Tuesday after the election, unless these dates fall on a legal holiday, then it pushes back one day. This is the only and final election canvass for school districts located within one county.
Nov. 15 or 16:Tier 2 canvass of votes for districts whose boundary lines fall within multiple counties: second Monday or Tuesday after the election, unless these dates fall on a legal holiday, then it pushes back one day. This is the second and final election canvass for those districts.
Dates vary: No date is legally specified for the organizational meeting. It is the first regular meeting or a special meeting held before the first regular meeting following the final canvass. During this meeting, the board organizes for the new term.

Review the differences between an Annual Meeting and Organizational Meeting and when these meetings should take place with the school elections change from September to November in odd-numbered years.

Tuesday Talks with IASB Webinar Series

IASB is pleased to offer a complimentary recorded webinar series to assist candidates in navigating school board elections. Watch the three videos and view the associated PDFs to hit the ground running!
  • Running for the School Board 101—Essential Tips for Candidates
    Air Date: Aug. 17, 2021
    In this initial webinar, candidates unpack what serving on a school board entails and how to prepare for meaningful board leadership. IASB staff share practical insights about the authority of the board, common misperceptions about the role of the board, essential factors that impact school finance, and expectations for board work. We examine critical information for candidates to learn about the district that impact decision-making and options to access this knowledge. The session concludes with a glimpse into candidate filing details and a sneak preview of upcoming IASB webinars for candidates who want to dig deeper into these and related topics of interest. View presentation PDF.
  • Maintaining Your Community’s Trust—Legal & Ethical Campaigns
    Air Date: Aug. 31, 2021
    Did you know that failure to comply with Iowa Ethics Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws (Chapters 68A and 68B) can result in fines and other penalties? School board candidates must comply with these laws, which include guidance for contributions, committees, printed materials, expenditures and more. Join IASB staff and two experienced attorneys as we dig into conflict of interest and gift laws in Iowa Code, key dates, FAQs and share tips for candidates as you campaign for election. View presentation PDF. View Key Tips for Ethical Campaigns PDF. View Outline for New School Board Candidates PDF.
  • Student Learning—Do Boards Really Make a Difference?
    Air Date: Sept. 21, 2021
    Why, yes they do! Most board members say they ran for the board to give back and to make a difference for students. But what does it take to make that happen? This conversation focuses on the skills, beliefs and actions of board members that are linked to improved student learning. We also talk about challenges and tips to help keep the focus on the main thing at the board table—ensuring high and equitable learning for all students. View presentation PDF.

Why School Board Members Serve

IASB asked current Iowa school board members why they serve on their local boards. While we found there are many reasons why they are willing to give their time and commitment to serve their communities, there is one that remains consistent no matter who you ask—they serve to make a difference for the children in their district.  

Amy Truax
“If you have a desire to learn, then the school board is for you. There are opportunities to ask questions and gain clarity about the issues that impact the district. I really enjoy seeing students succeed—every time I walk into a school building and see students learning, working on projects and sharing what they learned—it makes me glad I ran for the board.”

Amy Truax, Aplington-Parkersburg Schools Board Member

Jim Green
“Working with other board members toward a common goal gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I’ve seen how we can improve education for children when we put our minds to it. It’s gratifying being part of the decision making process and part of making sure our students have a strong future.”

Jim Green, IASB Board President, Grant Wood AEA Vice President

Rob Barron
“The school board is one of the most important elected offices in the country. Boards ultimately make decisions that impact the lives of students. Having a board that is representative of the student enrollment is one of the best things a community could have going for it. Diverse boards bring more values to the table and help make better informed decisions.”

Rob Barron, Des Moines Schools Board Member

Liz Brennan
“The most rewarding outcome of board service is seeing the smiling faces of kids walking across the stage at high school graduation. Just knowing that I approved the new Spanish teacher that inspired them to take AP Spanish, knowing that I had one little bit of their life that I can be proud about—that’s the most inspiring part for me. Graduation gets me through the rough spots throughout the year.”

Liz Brennan, IASB AEA District Director, West Des Moines Schools Board Member, Heartland AEA President-elect

Staci Heaberlin
“I enjoy being a school board member because I know our goals and accomplishments are for the well-being and education of our students in our district. It is very rewarding when are able to offer programs for our students that will make them successful in the future, no matter what path they choose. I enjoy communicating with parents, community members, and students while also seeking input from all stakeholders in our district to keep us successful!”

Staci Heaberlin, Board President, Murray Schools

Nate Clayberg
“I want to be a part of the planning and strategy to help deliver a quality learning experience for everyone in our building. Being of service to the district is very rewarding when you can see construction projects finished and when you see students graduate and move onto their next steps. Sometimes we forget as a board the impact we have on students and families. When we remember why we are here and who we serve it makes the job so much easier.”

Nate Clayberg, Board Vice President, Jesup Schools

Nate Gruber
“For me, serving as a school board member is an opportunity to advocate on behalf of those who may otherwise feel unheard and unrepresented in district decisions. Working toward having diverse school boards is important because the experiences of minority and underrepresented groups can be so different from that of others. Having a seat and a voice at the table provides these groups the opportunity to give input on the decisions that affect our students and community.”

Nate Gruber, Board Member, Cedar Falls Schools


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