Board Member Recruitment & Running for School Board
School Board Candidate Information
Local school boards are a uniquely American institution and at the heart of this country’s public education system. A board’s existence is based on the belief that lay control of public education makes schools flexible and responsive to the needs of the local community.
What Does a School Board Member Do?
The broadest definition of a school board’s role is that it acts as the governance team for the school district. It is important that the board serves as a positive and responsible liaison between the school district and community.
If you are elected, you and your fellow board members’ actions will have far-reaching results. The policies the Board sets will shape the education of tomorrow’s leaders. The guidelines the Board creates will direct the superintendent in navigating the problems your school district faces daily. Your decisions will affect the families of hundreds of students and employees, now and in the future.
School board authority rests with the board as a whole, not each member individually. School board decisions can only be made by a majority of the members at a public meeting. From the moment school board members begin service, they are accountable to the public, to the state government, and to the courts.
A board performs its functions through:
A School Board sets school district policies. The Board hires a Superintendent and district staff to put policy into practice. The Superintendent is accountable to the school board for managing the district according to board policies. The local School Board must develop and adopt policy to govern the operation of the schools. This includes acting on the Superintendent’s recommendations in such areas as: employment of personnel, administration of student services, adoption of educational programs, selection of instructional materials and allocation of funds.
School Boards must provide vital leadership in establishing current and long-range educational plans and programs for school districts. The school board is responsible for providing a financial plan to carry out the educational programs by adopting an annual budget. Working closely with the community and the school administration, the board sets goals and adopts policies on which instructional programs are based.
One of the critical responsibilities of a School Board is to select a Superintendent. The School Board exercises authority primarily through its Superintendent. The Board must be kept informed by the superintendent of the needs, conditions, achievements and progress of the school system. As public employers, the Board establishes the policies to govern the recruiting, hiring, employment, supervision, evaluation and dismissal of employees. This is an especially vital role, for the school district is frequently one of the community’s largest employers.
School Board members serve as the citizens’ link to the school district and must interpret the school district’s needs, programs and accomplishments for the community and interpret the community’s needs and aspirations to the Superintendent and staff.
School Boards serve a dual role of representing both the schools and the community. As a public trust, the local school board must look into the community, find out what citizens want and provide clear channels of communication between the community and its schools. Boards need to sense and influence public opinion about the direction and function of their schools.
Needed improvements cannot be made until people are aware of those needs. Problems will not be solved until people become aware of the problems. It is important to discuss openly the strengths and weaknesses of the schools. Since decisions made about the schools can have an impact on the whole community, it is important to involve local citizens.
Broad Functions of a School Board
School Boards create a shared vision for the district, develop a structure to support that vision, establish accountability, advocate for students and schools, all while adhering to a high standard of conduct and ethics.
The School board, on behalf of and with extensive participation by the community, creates a shared vision to enhance student achievement. After setting the vision and mission for the district, the School Board works collaboratively to establish strategic goals to move the organization toward the community’s vision for its schools.
To achieve its mission, the Board establishes a structure and creates an environment designed to ensure all students the opportunity to attain their maximum potential through a sound organizational framework. The School Board does this through Board policies and goals.
Because the Board is accountable to the local community, it causes the continuous assessment and reporting of all conditions affecting education. As the community’s representative in the local schools, the Board is responsible for ensuring the schools are well run, that resources are used wisely, and that high standards for academic performance are set. The Board as a whole should monitor performance to meet established goals: academic, financial, and operational.
One of the Board’s most important roles is to be the ambassador for public education in the community. The Board serves as education’s advocate on behalf of students and their schools in order to advance the community’s vision for its schools, pursue its goals, encourage progress, energize systemic change, and deal with children as whole persons in a diversified society. Together, the Board should demonstrate an atmosphere of collaboration and respect is the most conductive environment for providing an excellent education for every student every day. As individuals, each Board member can help communicate the ways their local schools are supporting student educational needs, parent and community aspirations, and state and federal standards.
Conduct – Ethics
The Board and its individual members conduct District business in a fair, respectful, and responsible manner that reflects service to the community on behalf of students. A code of ethics for Board members is included in the board bylaws adopted by most school boards for their districts. It is incumbent on individual board members to follow it.
The Association of Alaska School Boards has developed a framework around these Broad Functions of a School Board, tied the School Board’s purposes, student achievement. In order to continue the great tradition of being able to provide a quality education, governed by locally elected officials, collectively School Boards and School Board members must establish the public’s confidence in School Board’s ability to oversee the system.
What School Board Members and Boards DON’T Do
School board members do not:
- Implement policy
- The School Board MAKES policy, and the Superintendent carries it out
- Manage the day to day operations of the school district
- The School Board sees that the district is managed by professionals
- Evaluate Staff, other than the Superintendent
- Become involved in employment interviews, other than those for Superintendent
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Running
If you’re considering running for your local school board, there are a lot of things to think about.
You don’t need a background in local government, public education, or public policy to run for the school board. Your children don’t have to attend a school in the district either. But you should be able to answer a few questions for yourself.
Why am I running for my local school board?
Can I make the time commitment to run for the school board?
Can I make the time commitment to serve on the School Board?
What knowledge and skills do I bring to the School Board?
Becoming a Candidate
An individual with the following qualifications is eligible to be a member of the School Board:
- Is a citizen of the United States
- Is 18 years of age or older
- Is a registered voter in the State of Alaska
- Has been a resident of the school district for 30 days immediately preceding the election (or appointment)
- Is not disqualified from voting due to:
- Conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude, assuming voting rights have not been restored; or
- A court finding of incompetency, unless the disability no longer exists.
To file for candidacy, check with your local municipal office, borough office, or the Department of Elections for REAAs.