The role of the school board

The role and function of board members often are misinterpreted by the public. The board is a policymaking body and members are the chief advisors to the superintendent on community attitudes. Board members do not manage the day-to-day operations of a school district; they see to it that the system is managed well by professional administrators.

Board members do not evaluate staff, other than the superintendent and treasurer, nor do they typically become involved in employment interviews, other than those of the superintendent, business manager and treasurer. Board members may be consulted during the hiring process for other positions, such as assistant superintendent.

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

OSBA has many resources to help you in your role as a school board member. To the right are links to short guides covering everything from running a meeting to filling a vacancy on your board. If you need additional assistance, contact our board development team at (614) 540-4000 or (800) 589-OSBA.