The Pennsylvania state constitution mandates that "The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of thorough and efficient public education system to serve the needs of the commonwealth." A school board is the locally elected government body that serves as the agent of the state legislature and the representatives of the community in providing a high-quality education for the students of the school district.
School boards were officially created by the Free School Act of 1834. This law addressed several areas of school governance, including:
- Creating school districts
- Requiring that all children receive an education regardless of their status in society
- Establishing the election of school board members
- Empowering school boards to supervise the creation and operation of schools and the certification of teachers
Each school board consists of nine members who serve a four-year term, without pay. School board elections are held every two years, and the number of seats up for election is staggered, with five seats elected one term, then four seats elected the alternate term.