Being a School Board Member

Welcome to the world of boardsmanship! These are challenging times for public education and great governance is needed more than ever before. Creating the capacity for your district to excel is not done by accident. It takes the deliberate and intentional efforts of a governing board who has a unity of purpose focused on students.

As a school board member, you have much to learn about your roles and responsibilities. It seems almost instantly after taking the oath of office, you are expected to become skilled interpreters of school law, experts at board policy development and vigilant overseers of scarce resources. What’s more, you are expected to function with the other board members as part of a united team, despite differences in backgrounds, political philosophies, knowledge levels and expertise.

The National School Boards Association suggests that the four major thrusts of leadership for school boards include the following:

1. Vision

  • Keep students as the focus
  • Adopt a shared vision based on community beliefs to guide local education
  • Demonstrate a strong commitment to the shared vision by using them to guide decisions

2. Structure

  • Employ a superintendent and a management structure that enables people
  • Establish processes to manage systems
  • Develop long-term plans and revisit them annually
  • Review and adopt policies and allocate resources to support teaching and learning
  • Set high instructional standards
  • Encourage an innovative learning environment

3. Accountability

  • Monitor progress through quality assessments and reports
  • Evaluate the superintendent and treasurer performance
  • Evaluate progress toward long-term goals
  • Report district progress to the community

4. Advocacy

  • Seek resources to expand opportunities
  • Advocate for families and children through strong partnerships
  • Lead celebrations of student achievement
  • Promote school board service as a meaningful way to contribute to society