It's easy to say that School Boards govern their schools. But what does that mean in everyday practice? There are, in fact, four major board roles:
1. Establishing a vision for the community's schools
Of all the roles and responsibilities of governing boards, none is more central to the purpose of local governance than ensuring that a long-term vision is established for the school system. The vision reflects the consensus of the entire Board and the Superintendent as to what the students need in order to achieve their highest potential. The vision should set a direction for the school district, driving every aspect of the district's program.
2. Maintaining an effective and efficient structure for the school district
The Board is responsible for establishing and maintaining an organizational structure that supports the district's vision and empowers the professional staff. Although the Board doesn't implement policies or programs, board members are responsible for:
employing and supporting the Superintendent and setting policy for hiring other personnel;
adopting the curriculum;
adopting the budget and overseeing facilities issues; and
adopting collective bargaining agreements.
3. Ensuring accountability to the public
As community representatives, boards are accountable to the public
for the results of their schools. In order to ensure personnel, program
and fiscal accountability, boards are responsible for:
evaluating the Superintendent;
evaluating policies and serving as a judicial and appeals body;
monitoring student achievement and adopting program changes;
monitoring and adjusting district finances; and
monitoring the collective bargaining process.
4. Providing community leadership
As the only locally elected officials chosen to represent the
interests of schoolchildren, Board members have a responsibility to
speak out on behalf of the children in their community.
Boards are advocates for their students, their districts'
educational programs and public education. They build support within
their communities and at the state and national levels.
These four roles represent the functions that are so fundamental to
a school system's accountability to the public that, in our democratic
society, they can only be performed by an elected governing body.
Authority for these roles is granted to the Board as a whole. Therefore,
Board members fulfill these roles by working together as a governance
team with the Superintendent to make decisions that will best serve all
the students in the community.