The role of school boards in Pennsylvania and their impact on you

By Ashley Adams

November 1, 2023

There are 500 school boards in Pennsylvania and all of them have seats up for grabs this Election Day. So here are some facts you should know about what a school board does and how it impacts your life.

No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, you’re part of a school district. There are 500 across the commonwealth, each one run by a school board. That means even if you don’t have kids, the people on your local school board still impact your community and your life.

On Nov. 7, Election Day, you get to decide who will represent your district on the school board. You can learn about the candidates running in your district by visiting the state voting website. Make sure you have a say in who will be your voice.

If you’re unclear about exactly what your local school board does, here’s an explanation:

Adopts annual budget

A school board reviews and adopts the annual budget for a school district. They decide where your tax money goes and how much is spent, including on the buildings and sports fields you see every day.

Sets local tax rate

A school board sets the local property tax rate — which is money that comes out of your pocket. In Pennsylvania, the property tax you pay every year (whether you own a home and pay based on its value or you rent and it’s factored into your monthly rent by your landlord) funds your local school district.

Hiring of personnel

A school board approves the hiring and compensation of all personnel — those are the people who work in your district, from teachers, principals, support staff, and coaches. They also contract with transportation companies who operate the school buses.

Sets policies

A school board sets the policies and the curriculum for the school district. They decide what the kids growing up around you learn. They would be the deciding factor on book bans and what material and subject matter students are seeing and learning.

Appoints superintendent

A school board appoints a superintendent, who manages the day-to-day operations of the district — like calling days off for weather — that can impact childcare, transportation, and local businesses. In Pennsylvania, a superintendent’s salary commonly exceeds $100,000 annually, which comes out of the budget, which — again — is funded by your tax dollars.


  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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