MOUNT VERNON — Communication is a key to school boards doing an effective job, say veteran board members. Without it, both administration and board can quickly lose the support of the community.
But what is the job of a school board member? The Ohio School Boards Association provides some guidelines in its information for board candidates:
“A school board sets educational goals and establishes policy for the school system based upon state laws and community values. Perhaps the most important responsibility of a school board is to employ a superintendent and treasurer and hold them responsible for managing the schools in accordance with the school board’s policies.”
In addition to hiring and evaluating superintendents and treasurers, the OSBA says, boards make decisions on “setting district policy, planning student services, goal-setting and long-range planning, adopting curriculum, establishing budgets, engaging parents, being good fiscal stewards, acting in the best interest of the school district and within the scope of their legal authority, and creating community relations programs.”
On the other hand, OSBA warns that there are things a board member should not do, and notes that the role of board members is often misinterpreted by the public.
“Board members do not manage the day-to-day operations of a school district; they see to it that the system is managed well by professionals.
“Board members ... do not evaluate staff, other than the superintendent and treasurer, nor do they become involved in employment interviews, other than those of the superintendent, business manager and treasurer. Board members may be consulted on the hiring process for other positions, such as assistant superintendent.”
Larry Good has served on the Muskingum County Board of Education and its successor, the Muskingum Educational Service Center, since 1979. Starting in 1980, he served eight years as one of the Muskingum County representatives on the Muskingum Area Joint Vocational School District Board (now Mid-East Ohio Vocational District).