Happy New Year! At the beginning of every year, the division of legal services receives questions relating to organizational meeting procedures and the administration of the oath of office. Let’s take a moment to review the basics.
RC 3313.14 requires, city, local, exempted village and joint vocational school (JVS) boards to organize within the first 15 days of January. An educational service center (ESC) governing board has until the end of the month to hold its organizational meeting.
The meeting should be called to order by the president pro tem, and opening ceremonies (such as the Pledge of Allegiance) should be conducted. This should immediately be followed by the administration of the oath of office to members beginning a new term of office. An elected official may take the oath of office at any time after he or she has been officially certified as elected by the county board of elections, although it is common practice to administer the oath as part of the board’s organizational meeting. If the oath has been administered to a board member prior to the organizational meeting, it should be so stated for the record as to when, where and by whom the oath was administered.
Once all members are officially sworn in in compliance with the law, the treasurer should call the roll and the election of officers should take place. The president pro tem continues to preside over the meeting at this point. Any member of the board may nominate someone for office.
Ohio law requires a majority vote of all members of the board (three votes on a five-member board) to elect an officer. Once officers have been elected, the newly elected president should preside over the meeting.
Among the items that should be considered at the organizational meeting are establishment of the regular meeting schedule, appointments to the JVS board, and adoption of the district’s tax budget per RC 5705.28. Normally, the purchase of liability insurance for individual board members and the board as an entity, renewing OSBA membership and other routine business items also are discussed at this meeting. Newly elected board members should make an election on whether to participate in SERS (School Employees Retirement System). Finally, boards often make board committee appointments during the organizational meeting. There is no restriction on the business that may be conducted during the organizational meeting, so it is not necessary for the board to hold a separate meeting to discuss other board business.
For more information please see OSBA’s School Board Organizational Meeting and Oath of Office fact sheet.