- First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.
- When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
- School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
- School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.
Effective board members:
- Have a conviction that public education is important.
- Are committed to improving public education for all children.
- Possess a sincere desire to serve the community, rather than a desire for personal glory or to achieve a personal goal.
- Have the ability to understand the forces of change in our society and foresee, to some extent, the shape of the future in order to plan wisely.
- Have loyalty to the democratic process.
- Have the courage to make difficult decisions, defend the philosophy and goals of the organization, and withstand criticism from people who hold opposing views.
- Are able to accept the will of the majority and support a decision when it is made by the board.
- Respect the diversity of perspectives and cultural backgrounds on the board and in the community, enabling them to serve with tolerance and without prejudice.
- Have cooperative spirits, recognizing that success in achieving board goals and implementing ideas requires a team approach.
- Can communicate well with others.
- Are willing to invest the significant time and energy required by board service.
- Are available to attend all board meetings and related board work.
- Strive to be knowledgeable about policies and programs.
- Have professional respect for district staff.
- Are respected and involved in their communities.
- Bring a broad base of knowledge and experience to the job, enabling them to vote with intelligence and confidence on complex issues such as finance, curriculum and student-employee-community relationships.
- Know that the reputation of the entire school district is reflected in their behavior and attitude.
- Understand the board's roles and responsibilities.
School board members are responsible for broad, futuristic thinking, minute analysis and decisive action in all areas that affect students and staff in their schools. Some roles and responsibilities are implicit. Others are specifically mandated.
Set the Direction
The governing board, with extensive involvement from the staff and community, is responsible for envisioning the future of the public schools in their community. After setting the vision and mission for the district, the governing board works collaboratively to establish strategic goals to move the organization toward the community's vision for its schools.
Establish the Structure
Board policies and goals establish the structure and create the environment for ensuring that all students are served. The superintendent uses the structure established by the board to manage operations on a day-to-day basis. Although the superintendent may suggest changes to policies, only the board as a whole has the legal authority to adopt policy.
The board provides support to its organization by ensuring that resources are adequate and aligned to meet established goals. Support also is provided by recognizing and encouraging excellence throughout the organization.
As the community's representative in the local schools, the board is responsible for ensuring that the schools are well run – that resources are used wisely and that high standards for academic performance are set. The board as a whole needs to monitor performance to meet established goals – academic, financial and operational.
Advocate for Your Students
One of the board's most important roles is to be the ambassador for public education in the community. As individuals, each board member can help communicate the ways in which their local schools are supporting student educational needs, parent and community aspirations, and state and federal standards. Together, the board also can demonstrate that an atmosphere of collaboration and respect is the most conducive environment for providing the best education for children in the community.
Specific duties of school boards may relate to employment, purchasing, budget preparation, students and policies. They may include:
- Hiring and evaluating the district superintendent.
- Providing guidance in the development of the budget to ensure funding needed to meet board established goals.
- Approving the budget.
- Monitoring the budget.
- Setting salaries for employees.
- Approving purchases.
- Establishing and approving policies.
- Approving curriculum materials.
- Adopting the school calendar.
- Reviewing regulations for compliance with policy.
- Approving personnel actions based on the superintendent's recommendation.
- Closing or constructing schools.
- Assessing board effectiveness.
- Monitoring progress toward goals.
School board members DON'T:
- Implement policy; school boards make policy and superintendents carry it out.
- Manage the day-to-day operations of the school district; school boards see to it that the district is managed by professionals.
- Evaluate staff, other than the superintendent, nor do they become involved in employment interviews, other than those for superintendent
South Carolina School Board standards
- serves as an advocate for children and public education
- communicates a clear vision
- acts with
- monitors student achievement
- understands and responds to community needs
- conducts professional meetings
- supports the superintendent and administrative staff
- avoids micromanagement
South Carolina School Board member standards
- acts ethically
- demonstrates courage
- works as a team player
- communicates effectively
- makes sound decisions
- stays informed
- devotes sufficient time to duties
- to represent the interests of the entire district when making decisions and to rely on available facts and on my judgment rather than on individuals or special interest groups;
- to understand the proper role of the board to set policies governing the district and to hire the chief administrative officer to carry out these policies;
- to encourage an open exchange of ideas by all board members during the decision-making process;
- to seek regular communications between the board and students, staff and all segments of the community;
- to attend all board meetings, to study issues facing the board and to enact policies and official actions only after full discussion at such meetings;
- to work with other board members in a conscientious and courteous manner befitting the public trust placed in the position of school board trustee;
- to communicate concerns and public reaction to board policies and school programs to the superintendent and other board members in a professional manner;
- to support employment of the persons best qualified for staff positions and to ensure a regular and impartial evaluation of all staff;
- to avoid conflicts of interest and to refrain from using my board position for personal or partisan gain;
- to encourage recognition of the achievements of students and staff and of the involvement of community residents;
- to support legislation and funding which will improve the educational opportunities and environment for students and staff;
- to take no individual action which would compromise the integrity of the board or administration and to respect the confidentiality of information that is privileged under the Freedom of Information Act;
- to study current educational issues and to participate in training programs such as those offered through the South Carolina School Boards Association and the ; and
- to make the educational setting in our district the best possible to encourage all students to achieve and to love learning.
South Carolina School Board Oath of office
according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise
the duties of the office to which I have been
elected (or appointed) and that I will, to the best
of my ability, discharge the duties thereof and
preserve, protect and defend the Constitution
of this State and of the United States, so help me God."
(S.C. Constitution, Art. III, Sect. 26)