Board Member Resources
What Does A School Board Do?
Why do we elect a school board to govern our schools? After all, we have professionals of whom we require advanced degrees and professional licenses. In our democratic system, every governmental agency requires citizen oversight. This is the way we do the public’s business in our country. Our system of oversight also provides several advantages in educating students. First, the system enables citizens to hold school districts accountable for the two valuable assets entrusted to it—the citizens’ children and the citizens’ money. Who better than taxpaying citizens to ensure the most efficient use of resources in providing the best possible education? Second, our students learn best if the community truly cares about education and communicates that value at every opportunity. The effective school board advocates on behalf of the district, the students, and the importance of learning.
Because they serve the community, board members must work with the public as they establish the mission and direction of education. It’s up to the board to engage the community in public education. A board member must be a skilled decision-maker and team player, a public-education advocate, a vital link between community and school, and a policy maker. As a public employer, the board establishes policies that govern the recruitment, employment, supervision, evaluation and dismissal of employees.
Embedded in most district policies is the understanding that an individual board member has no authority. Only a majority of the board, meeting in public, has the authority to make decisions.
LISTED BELOW ARE SOME OF THE KEY ROLES OF THE BOARD AS A WHOLE ENTITY, THE BOARD CHAIR AND THE SUPERINTENDENT
- Hiring and supervising the superintendent
- Establishing district vision and goals
- Setting district policies
- Adopting a budget and aligning resources to priorities
- Approving contracts
Board Chair Roles
- Presiding at, and ensuring the orderly conduct of all meetings of the board
- Working with the superintendent in planning the board’s agendas
- Calling special meetings when required
- Appointing all committees and serving as an ex-officio member of those committees, unless otherwise ordered by the board
- Signing official documents that require the chair’s signature
- Assuming other duties authorized by the board
- Managing the district’s day-to-day activities
- Supervising all staff
- Creating action plans to meet the board’s goals and priorities
- Establishing regulations and procedures
- Overseeing district expenditures
- Handling employee relations
- Reporting progress to the board
- Collaborating with the board in the establishment of goals, policies, and the budget
OSBA has a multitude of resources and trainings available. Here are a few geared specifically for new board members.