PSBA 2022 January/February Bulletin PSBA 2022 January/February Bulletin - Page 19

Congratulations on your election as a school board director !
Congratulations on your election as a school board director !
You ’ ve probably realized your new responsibilities cover a broad array of areas , from finances to policy to advocacy . If you ’ re struggling to remember the finer points of parliamentary procedure or how school budgets operate , you ’ re not alone . There is a lot to learn . However , there are plenty of resources and supports to help you acclimate quickly and become an effective member of the board . Here are a few key items to keep in mind during your first term .
General responsibilities : Go team !
In Pennsylvania , the board is often referred to as the “ Team of 10 ” – the nine school directors , plus the superintendent . It ’ s important for new school directors to keep a “ team mentality ” when it comes to board service , says Will Smeltzer , PSBA director of education and training . The power and authority granted to school boards in the PA School Code is a collective authority , therefore , individual directors ’ power does not extend beyond their voice and vote at a school board meeting . “ While you may have campaigned and were elected as an individual , the greatest way to have an impact on your board is to work with the superintendent and other directors as a governance team ,” Smeltzer adds .
Another key fact to keep in mind is that the board governs the district through policy , while the superintendent and administration manage the day-to-day operations . Said another way , the school board does not run the district , it ensures the district is run well . School directors hold the superintendent accountable through annually required performance evaluations as well as ongoing discussion .
Maintaining a positive working relationship with the superintendent and your fellow members of the board is key to board and district effectiveness . As you ’ re starting out , try to understand the board ’ s culture and expectations for your conduct before , during and after a board meeting . What should you do when you have questions about the agenda before a board meeting ? How does your board conduct meetings ? Brush up on your parliamentary procedure – designed to protect order , promote equality of participation , and move the agenda forward efficiently – which will answer some of these questions . Then ask for details on your board ’ s preferences .
The work of the board continues , even as school directors come off or on the board , so it ’ s important to get up to speed quickly on your responsibilities . Smeltzer says that experienced directors estimate it takes one to three years before a new member of the board understands the role and how to be effective . Given the considerable learning curve , it ’ s a good idea to maintain an observational role during your first year or so of service . “ Listen and ask questions ,” he recommends . “ There ’ s a lot to learn and every few years there are new issues boards have to contend with .”
Training can help new directors learn foundational skills quickly and continue to grow in their role throughout their tenure . Research has shown that actions of the board have both a short- and long-term impact on student achievement , which emphasizes the need for school directors to lead at their best . To be an effective school director , continuous education through professional development is essential .
January / February 2022 PSBA Bulletin 17