Understanding the Superintendency - The Role of the School Board: A Basic Overview

In recognition of School Board Member Appreciation Day last week, here is a primer on what it means to be a school board member.

As a superintendent I have a single supervisor that consists of 7 people. These 7 volunteers are elected to serve as representatives of the community. As community members indicate they are interested in serving as Board members, before they run for a 4-year term, I share this document with them: “What it Means to Serve on the Board” that serves as an introduction to the role. I also meet with them and share my experiences as a superintendent, but also as a former board member. Most of this information I provide is from the Illinois Association of School Boards, the professional organization that supports school board members in Illinois. The IASB outlines 6 main responsibilities of a school board:
  1. Clarifies the district's purpose
  2. Connects with the community
  3. Employs a superintendent
  4. Delegates authority
  5. Monitors performance
  6. Takes responsibility for itself
The superintendent is made responsible for all matters of the school district through board policies and board action. When the board takes action, it does so by voting at board meetings held in public. After a majority of board members vote for an action, it becomes the single voice of the board. It is through these actions, especially in approving board policy, the superintendent is given direction to execute the expectations of the board. Throughout the year the superintendent keeps the board informed of progress on board goals (District 99 2019-20 Board Goals) and any other important district information board members need to make informed decisions. The board then monitors the superintendent’s performance and evaluates the superintendent on meeting the board’s goals. I review goal progress with the board through a goal summary and by sending out a year in review to the public to assist the board in evaluating my performance and to help develop goals for the following year.

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