With the kickoff parties for two School Board candidates this past weekend, and other candidates organizing websites and the like, the campaign season in Evanston has officially begun.

Four people have filed for the three positions that are open on the District 65 School Board. Five of the seven people who originally filed for positions on the District 202 Board remain as candidates for the three open positions there.

On the District 65 Board, the terms of Katie Bailey, Omar Brown and Richard Rykhus are expiring. Incumbents Mr. Brown and Mr. Rykhus have each filed papers to run for office. Adrian Dortch and Jennifer Phillips are also seeking positions on the District 65 Board. Ms. Bailey has decided to retire.

On the District 202 Board, the terms of Jonathan Baum, Mark Metz and Scott Rochelle are expiring. Mr. Baum and Mr. Metz have filed papers to run for office again. Mr. Rochelle, who originally filed papers for candidacy, has now withdrawn his name.

Three others are also seeking a seat on the District 202 Board. Mr. Dortch (who is also running for the District 65 Board), Monique R. Parsons and Anne Sills.

The RoundTable ran brief sketches of each of the candidates in its Dec. 31 edition. We plan to cover the campaigns and the candidates by publishing profiles of each candidate and covering the candidate forums, sponsored by PTA Council, the League of Women Voters of Evanston and ETHS Parents Engaged.

The forum for District 202 candidates is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. on March 2 at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. The forum for District 65 candidates is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. on March 5 at the Hill administration building, 1500 McDaniel Ave.

Granted, School Board elections do not create as much stir or seem as glamorous as mayoral or aldermanic elections. But they should.

There are many reasons we believe community members would benefit from learning about the School Board candidates, civic engagement and financial considerations among them.

While the City takes about 20% of each dollar of property tax revenues, the two School Districts combined take 67%.

Moreover, the State of Illinois is plotting ways to further burden our School Districts and possibly others that are similarly situated. One plan is to shift the cost of funding teachers’ pensions to local school districts, a financial burden the State  historically – and properly, we believe – carried.

The legislature is also considering how it allocates State funding for education, which will likely cut funding to our School Districts.  And while the State adds to the financial burden of local school districts, it does not offer any meaningful way for the districts to recoup the loss. Further, these additional burdens come on top of general reductions in State funding of education over the past decade.

Thus the School Board members we will elect in April will likely face some wrenching financial decisions.

We urge residents to meet and question the candidates by going to coffees, reading their literature, visiting their websites and attending forums, and then to vote in the April 7 election.

Voters who stay away from the polls or who go to the polls uninformed do a disservice to the communities in which they live.