What does a school board do?

A school board director, or member, is an often misunderstood position. We are elected officials, yet we only have power in the action of a majority board vote. We must work collaboratively to accomplish our goals and do the work of the district. We are in a collaborative leadership relationship with our Superintendent. We are essentially a citizen oversight committee.

The number one job of a school board is to recruit, retain, supervise and support our single employee, the Superintendent. The Superintendent, in turn, is the executive at the district.

Put another way the Superintendent at Parkrose has five supervisors, the five school board members that may have individual opinions, but only have the power to give direction through a majority vote. As school board members we’ve got some other roles too, passing a budget and calendar, approving policies, etc.

A school district is only as strong and functional as its school board. Nobody wants to work for a dysfunctional supervisor. That’s why open, respectful and collaborative, communication and relationships on the board are essential.

When I became board chair in July, with the agreement of the board, I instituted new meeting management practices to ensure speaking time of board members was balanced and all board members felt respected in the meetings. Together we developed new “Board Norms”.

I’m proud to say that all five board members rated this standard “excellent” and had complimentary things to say about the way I’ve managed meetings and processes I’ve put in place in our February self-evaluation. The image I’ve included below shows the criteria, ratings and comments from our self evaluation. You can find the full school board self evaluation in our February 11th Work Session Packet.

There you can see these processes in action. All School Board Business meetings and some School Board Work Sessions are video recorded.

Find the meeting videos, meeting agendas, materials and minutes as well as board norms under the school board tab on our district website. 

Dave Shaut