An important date is coming up soon.

July 8 is the first day people can file nomination papers to run for their local school boards. (The last day to file papers is Aug. 1 by 5 p.m.)

There’s not an incredibly long window of time to determine whether you want to run for your local school board, so we’re giving you an advance notice to start thinking about it.

In Ballard, four seats will be up for election this fall. Jean Saveraid, at-large representative and current board vice president, intends to run for another term, while current board president David Jackson, District 3, is unsure whether or not he will run for re-election. Due to redistricting, current board members Tim Erickson, District 1, and Kirk Peterson, District 2, both now reside in District 1. Two years remain on their four-year terms, so whoever is elected to fill the new District 1 and District 2 seats will complete the final two years. Erickson said he intends to run for re-election. It is unknown if Peterson will seek re-election - he could not be reached by press time.

In Collins-Maxwell, the District 1 seat currently held by Lowell Crouse will be up for election. Crouse said he plans on running to retain his position on the board. Jeff Lindemoen, at-large, is undecided if he will run for re-election, but said he is leaning toward not running. During a special election last November, voters elected to decrease the number of director districts in the Collins-Maxwell School District from five to three, with two at large positions.

In the North Polk School District, current board members Brett Bruggeman, Diane Lackore and Gary Reinhart all intend to run for re-election. The school district is not separated into director districts, so all board positions are at-large.

Each year, the Iowa Association of School Boards sends out information urging local residents to consider running for a seat on their school board. Do it, the IASB says, "to ensure a bright future for all children and communities across the state."

We can tell you that serving on a school board is not easy. It takes time to learn all the ins and outs of school business and school budgeting. It takes even longer to learn the multitude of acronyms that describe every program, agency and initiative that comes along in the field of education!

But for those who care about their school system, which is especially true of those who have children and grandchildren attending that school, the commitment of time can be very rewarding.

Members of the local school board often need to make tough decisions. They have to be leaders; they have to have vision; and they have to be dedicated. Board members are held accountable for student learning. They must help determine educational goals, set school policy, oversee school finances and be involved in a variety of other school-related tasks.

If elected, a school board member will serve a four-year term, with the exception of the District 1 and District 2 seats at Ballard. Board members will receive no pay. What they do receive are lots of calls and lots of questions. As a board member, you are often asked to explain decisions that have been made and you are called upon to listen, with an open mind, to parents who have concerns. It’s not always easy. It can, in fact, be quite challenging.

It takes a certain kind of person, that’s for sure. And for those who are patient, who have an open mind, who aren’t afraid to tackle problems or stand up for what they believe in, being a member of your local school board can be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.

To find out more, there’s an online reference guide about running for school board at: www.ia-sb.org/boardelections.aspx.

The school board election will be held this fall on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

As you think about running for the local school board, remember this: The rewards of your service will be found in the things you do to help shape the lives of the community’s young people.

The Ballard, Collins-Maxwell and North Polk school districts need good people to step forward and run for the local school board. Nomination papers are available in the school board secretary’s offices or from the county auditor’s office. After you pick up those papers, you must obtain the signatures of at least 1 percent of the qualified electors of the district (the auditor’s office can help you with that number) or 50 electors, whichever is less, but at least 10 signatures.

Think about it. Maybe this is the right time for you to step forward and run.