PSBA 2022 January/February Bulletin PSBA 2022 January/February Bulletin - Page 35

guest perspectives

guest perspectives

Jill Dennin , former board member at Boyertown School District
( retired December 2021 )

What book , training or piece of advice was most helpful to you during your early days as a school director and why ?

state versus local contributions were calculated ; how the mill rates and property values are used in budgeting calculations and what expenses were driving the
“ You
can ’ t
please
everybody !”
was
budget . I overcame my lack of knowledge
probably the best piece of advice I learned and need to be reminded of every single day . Invaluable during my early days on the
by reading PSBA materials on budgeting . I also sat down with our chief financial officer who was able to explain how
board were the PSBA in-person training
school
budgeting
worked .
sessions that allowed me to understand my role of a school board director . I was there to was govern and not manage , to set policy and allow the administrators to
I came to realize , and later was able to share with my colleagues , that you cannot apply your private business
carry out the policies . The distinctions were
budgeting
principles
to
clear . I was able to encourage other school
public
finance / budgeting .
directors to be effective policymakers
Another
steep
learning
without entering into the weeds . I learned that school districts with high-performing school boards tended to have higherranked schools . Also helpful was The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni , which emphasized the importance of
curve was becoming aware that as one board member , I had no power ; five votes were needed to make policy decisions , pass a budget , or hire a superintendent .
organizations having a shared goal . If
we could agree on the goal of managing funding that delivered the best education for our kids while being fiscally responsible to stakeholders , we could have more 9-0 than 5-4 votes leading to a more cohesive ,
In what ways did your board help you to acclimate to the new role ? Our board president and a few others who had been on the board were very helpful . They took the time to reach out and explain
high-performing school board . It wasn ’ t
important
procedures
and
policies .
In
always easy ; but remembering our primary goal – one based on what ’ s best for the students in our district – helped me make decisions while recognizing that I could not please everyone .
addition , they encouraged me to attend the PSBA training , which at the time was not required . Our superintendent and board president set up a time to bring in our solicitor to explain legal issues associated
with school districts and the parameters
What learning curves did you find most steep as a new board director and how did you overcome them ?
around executive sessions . In closing , I am thankful for the work PSBA does with providing valuable training to new and
As
a
stay-at-home
mom
and
parttime
sitting board members . During my tenure , I
substitute
teacher ,
I
understood
continued to take advantage of conferences ,
educational needs of students and the
educational seminars and webinars , which
importance
of
providing
an
equitable
I believe made me a better school board
education to all students . However , I did
member .
not have a firm grasp on budgeting : how
The guest column features responses from school leaders on topics of relevance . This issue focuses on acclimating new school directors . If you would like to participate as a columnist , please contact Jackie Inouye at Jackie . Inouye @ psba . org .
January / February 2022 PSBA Bulletin 33