I’ve worked with and witnessed the workings of many local School Boards and their Trustees. Having spent 52 years in education consisting of teacher, coach, school administrator, retiring after 19 years as a Bureau Chief from the Idaho State Department of Education (SDE) and now for 13 years in retirement I have been running my own educational consulting business.
My experiences have shown that local boards work best when they operate in the areas of their responsibility. That would include setting the vision and goals for the district, adopting policies that give the district direction to set priorities and achieve its goals. Additionally they hire and evaluate the superintendent, and adopt and oversee the annual budget. They need to allow the superintendent to administer the district. When local boards and or its members step outside those responsibilities I can almost guarantee sooner or later dysfunction will take place. Board members have no authority by themselves. Too often a board member or more than one will take on an issue thinking they’re answering the call of a constituent (or too often a friend), but, that more often than not that will take on dire consequences. Members of a school board are taking on a wonderful and very meaningful responsibility. We all must commend them. These leaders of our schools, the local board in its entirety, are the leaders of education the “great equalizer” and the most important function, other than parenthood, that we can do for our children in our society.
The Middleton school district issues as of late are a testament to what happens when local board members go off on divergent directions. The results can create communication discrepancies, become at odds with administrator’s recommendations, and or generally exhibit uncontrollable behaviors.
Tom Farley, Star