Teachers are the driving force behind our education system. They set the pace in a classroom, they engage with our children in a way that makes students feel confident, they point our children in a direction to make them successful. Teachers aren’t the only ones working to better a student’s experience. Behind the scenes are those who set the pace for teachers. Your schools are really run by your local school board.
WHAT IS A SCHOOL BOARD?
While teachers teach, a school board is actually responsible for the education teachers provide. Their job is to ensure that all students get a high-quality and rigorous education. This education is meant not only to prepare students for college, but also for their eventual careers and life in general.
A school board typically consists of five to nine members, elected or appointed, from the local community. This board meets on a regular basis to discuss, then decide, on issues pertaining to local schools. These decisions are supposed to be based on the input they receive from differing viewpoints like those from the superintendent, families, teachers, students, and the general public as well.
WHAT DOES A SCHOOL BOARD DO?
School boards are an important public link to your public schools. The members are there to serve their communities and have but one mission and that is to look out for the student’s well-being. Not only are the school boards publicly accessible, but they are also held accountable for the performance of each school. They are to ensure that tax dollars are put to good use, so students get the best education possible.
School boards handle a large number of issues. These range from the daily logistics of running a school district to expanded goals surrounding the education of the district’s students. Day-to-day duties could include:
- Hiring a superintendent. To go along with that would be evaluating the superintendent’s performance.
- Approving budgets and set spending priorities.
- Discussing textbooks along with other curriculum materials, then approving.
- Adopting the school districts upcoming calendar.
- Making the difficult decision as to what schools stay open and which will be closing.
- They also work closely with district leaders on various topics such as school safety, schedules, supplies, discipline, resources, facilities, and any other issues that may arise.
The above are just the practical tasks a school board must attend to. An effective one must also look past the practical tasks and while still accomplishing them they must focus on broader goals. They must ensure that the school district’s vision includes preparing students for life outside the school halls. Some of their broader tasks include: setting high academic standards, providing transparency and accountability, giving their support to teachers and staff, making sure the school culture is safe and positive.
School boards must be prepared controversies arise. They then must then deal with these controversies by smoothing over differences, finding compromises, and finding solutions. These tasks can be difficult at best.
School boards are accountable to the community for a school’s performance. This undoubtedly surrounds students, but it is obtained by forging strong relationships with teachers, students, parents, and members of the community. One of the best attributes a school board can have is its ability to listen. How they respond to community concerns by explaining the school district’s priorities goes a long way in building a good relationship with the community.
YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD AND YOU
As mentioned, school boards work best when they have established a great and open relationship with the community. When one can work in tandem with families and district leaders, it makes the goal of high-quality education for the children that much easier to achieve. It’s not smooth sailing, it never is, but it is a great start.
The routine sounds simple. The board is the entity that sets the vision, goals, and policy that districts are to follow. The superintendent then makes sure these things happen. He or she will implement these policies and directives, giving recommendations as well as providing leadership. Finally, parents will find themselves at school board meetings. Here they can ask questions, demand answers, vote, and ultimately hold the school board accountable.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE SCHOOL BOARDS?
So, what makes a school board so important in the grand scheme of things? If a school board is serious about their duties and they have honorable people as members, then a school board is one of the most important parts of a child’s education. A school board, one that is engaged and supportive, is essential in creating a school system that benefits all children.
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As students go through elementary school, then middle school, and into high school, a school board’s job is to prepare students for the real world. They do this by making sure the education experience is not only of high quality but one that makes sense for the modern world. A good school board will have in place pipelines to colleges and careers that will enable students to achieve their goals.
Many times, we see school boards as unsung heroes. Sometimes school boards are also out of touch and turn into villains. They usually don’t grab headlines unless it is for something bad. Calling parents “domestic terrorists” is a perfect example of what they should not do.
For the most part, school boards work toward making the educational experience a good one. Of course, not everyone is going to agree with every move or suggestion, life would be boring if that were the case. But school boards enjoying a working relationship with the superintendent and families of the community is a great way to move things in a positive direction.