If you had the opportunity to be on the school board, would you take it? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 02-06-2012, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The principle at my sons school keeps asking me if I am interested in being a member of the school board and my heart is saying yes because I would love to have more say in what happens there but I have no idea what to expect.

 

What are your thoughts?


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#2 of 13 Old 02-06-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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I would do it.  But I would ask to got to a few meetings first to make sure it's something I could really be part of. 

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#3 of 13 Old 02-06-2012, 07:50 AM
 
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Yes, if I had the time.  (And perhaps even if I didn't have a time, because the opportunity is so great, I think I would MAKE the time, and perhaps sacrifice something else.) It could be a great opportunity to really make a difference.  The principal must think a great deal of you to approach you on this. 

 

I, too, do not know what you can expect, so I would ask the principal to give me the contact info for  past and current members of the school board, and talk with them to find out what it would be like.  (Of course, I don't think that I'd talk to the person I'd be running against, but there must be a bunch of other people you could talk to.) But you are correct, you don't want to do this without first finding out what to expect.  I hope that you get some posts from people who can give you a good idea what to expect. It will be interesting to hear their perspectives.

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#4 of 13 Old 02-06-2012, 09:20 AM
 
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In our area, it takes quite a bit of money to campaign for school board and so unless I had a sponsor, it would not be something I'd consider. However, it's something I would do if the opportunity presented itself. I've been very involved working with the board in the past and seen what good a strong, open-minded group can do. 


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#5 of 13 Old 02-06-2012, 10:15 AM
 
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I see you're in Vermont.  I live in Vermont, too.  My sister has been on a couple of different school boards here, and I take minutes at meetings for several school boards.  I've been to lots and lots of school board meetings, and I don't see school boards as having much effect on what happens at schools.  Mostly, they just rubber-stamp recommendations of the principal and central office administrators.  If everyone on the board agrees on a particular approach they'd like to see the school take, and they all push for it consistently over a period of years, it's possible to slowly change some things about the way the school is run.  But I can't say I've seen any examples of dramatic change brought about by a school board, and it's hard even to come up with examples of small changes.  So much of what happens at school is determined by state and federal laws, and by budget constraints.  I'd say being on the school board is a good way to better understand at least some of what's happening at your school and why, but there probably won't be much discussion about things like curriculum, methods of instruction, or details of the discipline system, and the board won't be asked for input on those things.  (The board could choose to get involved, but this is not at all the norm in my area.)  You'll hear about things like the budget, staffing decisions, maintenance needs, and contract issues, and the board will have the opportunity to provide some direction on those things.

 

And you probably already realize this, but the idea of "campaigning" for the school board probably doesn't apply in most of Vermont.  Around here, usually anyone who wants to be on the school board can be.  You're likely to run unopposed.  (Or be appointed by the board after no one runs for election.)  (Those of you from other states may not realize just how weird things are here.  Vermonters are very big on "local control," so things are run on a very local level.  Each town generally has its own school district, which consists of a single elementary school.  Several towns may join together to run a high school, which will have its own separate board.  So most school boards oversee only one school, as most school districts consist of only one school.)

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#6 of 13 Old 02-06-2012, 11:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

 

And you probably already realize this, but the idea of "campaigning" for the school board probably doesn't apply in most of Vermont.  Around here, usually anyone who wants to be on the school board can be.  You're likely to run unopposed.  (Or be appointed by the board after no one runs for election.)  (Those of you from other states may not realize just how weird things are here.  Vermonters are very big on "local control," so things are run on a very local level.  Each town generally has its own school district, which consists of a single elementary school.  Several towns may join together to run a high school, which will have its own separate board.  So most school boards oversee only one school, as most school districts consist of only one school.)


Ah, that's interesting and explains the situation. When I read the OP, I wondered whether it was the governing body for a private school, rather than an entire city/regional/district Board of Education. Here, the school board is a political body, with elected representatives who campaign pretty hard for the positions. They govern school policy for the entire city, not just a single school.  In the last election, I think we had 3 or 4 candidates for our area.

 

I also wondered if it was a position with the school board, but not as a director/trustee/governor. We have a few parent representative positions on various committees - finance, special education, discipline/conduct etc.  

 

I've been on the executive of parent-school councils for schools. I've also been a Director on a board for a not-for-profit professional association. I would consider running for the school board, but I know there is a lot of work involved and it is often thankless. 

 

 

 

 

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#7 of 13 Old 02-06-2012, 08:10 PM
 
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I agree that going to some meetings and I also think talking to some one who is on the board now or has been in the past would be a good idea.

 

My DH and I have been working on getting on the board of our kids' school -- but it's a small private school. Getting on the board mostly means showing up for meetings consistently for a while and eventually getting voted in. The board works with the administration and does make real decisions about the direction of the school. We've enjoyed it so far -- we've learned a lot and feel more connected. It's interesting to see what is coming down the pipe and to hear the discussions about *why* some of the choices are made.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 13 Old 02-07-2012, 05:11 PM
 
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Depends.

 

Once my kids are no longer in elementary school I may consider a run.  You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of family time and personal time and deal with people shoveling their poop onto you.  Generally with any executive position, you will almost never hear what people like, but you will get a lot of angry feedback (some of it spot on, others by people who may have had unrealistic expectations in the first place).  If you're a good SB member, you'll need to be willing to learn more than you ever wanted to know about insurance, state standards, how school budgets work (they don't work like your budget), and how to deal with the politics of district administrator (who like another poster mentioned may indeed look upon you as their rubber stamp, and so if you are doing your job of oversight may not be pleased/may run around you), public, parents, teacher unions, PTA/PTO organization, local political parties and religious groups, ect.  I think most of the time it's uneventful, but you never know when the bomb is going to drop (a sudden catastrophic loss of funding, a major lawsuit, ect).

 

There are risks involved as well.  People can and may sue you for decisions you make (you'll have liability insurance through the organization but it's still horribly stressful).  You may have to face down a heckling/angry crowd over situations that are not your fault.  You may have to live with the ramifications of an (unintentionally) bad decision.  You'll learn things about your SD that perhaps you would have preferred not to.  If you speak out about something you may be targeted by a community group.

 

OTOH, you do have the potential for great impact.  You'll have a chance to ask questions.  You might be invited to see a lot of really cool and exciting programs that schools put on.  You may be able to add a voice that was missing and is sorely needed.

 

For me, it balances out on the plus side.  But I've sacrificed a great deal of time, effort, and energy at the local school/program level and it can and does negatively impact my family at times, so I feel that I owe them a break, at least for the rest of the 3 years I have kids in elementary school after this year.  Yes, you can probably not sacrifice a lot of time and energy, I guess (some people certainly seem to not be bothered, at least in my area!) but IMO that probably means you're doing a crappy job if you don't ever feel pinched!

 

I would definitely talk to school board members AND sit in on SB meetings/retreats/discussions as much as possible for the rest of this school year (or whenever you have to file) before you decide.  Any kind of district organization has a much different culture than being connected at your kids' school.  It can be a launching point, but not every advocate/active parent is suited to being an executive at the school board level;  but OTOH I would not rule it out either, you just never know until you see.  Most SB study sessions, ect. are open to the public too (although they may not advertise it).  You probably will get a better view of the culture and operation of your local school board going to those than just the public meetings.

 

But please keep in mind that I'm not in your state, and it could be totally different in your area.  Just my observations from my area.  :)

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#9 of 13 Old 02-12-2012, 08:27 AM
 
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I would not.  I was asked last year and after my experiences at board meetings and just the general bs I deal with by just being PTA president there's no damn way.  I don't have it in me.  I admire those that do though!

 

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#10 of 13 Old 02-14-2012, 09:56 PM
 
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check your other board members. are they committed to change too.

 

i dont want to say no dont do it. 

 

i want to say give it a try. 

 

but if you are looking for change unless the others are committed and looking for it too, you are pretty much on your own. esp. if the district is involved. 

 

however opportunities come by and things can change.

 

i would give it a try. 


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#11 of 13 Old 03-15-2012, 07:03 AM
 
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One of my close friends in the pres of the board for the district.  She works 40 hrs unpaid a week to do this.  I think it is a wonderful contribution to the community but certainly is costing her in terms of stress.  There was recently a very controversal decision that had to be made by the board, and the amount of flack, disrespect and personal attacks they got was very wearing.  

 

But someone has to do it .... and you can do it for three years and let someone else get into the frying pan.

 

I think you need to be both organized, have the time AND be OK with very public controversy and conversation.  You will need to speak in public a lot and you will have to go to all sorts of informal events all over the district.  So I would say an introvert who doesn't like to socialize -- wouldn't be suited.


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#12 of 13 Old 05-16-2012, 09:49 PM
 
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We've enjoyed it so far -- we've learned a lot and feel more connected. It's interesting to see what is coming down the pipe and to hear the discussions about *why* some of the choices are made.

 

 

I'd like to update my answer. I really hate being on the school board. It isn't fun any more. There is so much freakin drama, and I was happier when I didn't know about it. My DH has already resigned, and I'm seriously considering it.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 13 Old 05-16-2012, 09:58 PM
 
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I'd like to update my answer. I really hate being on the school board. It isn't fun any more. There is so much freakin drama, and I was happier when I didn't know about it. My DH has already resigned, and I'm seriously considering it.

yeahthat.gif

 

I was on the founding board of a charter school.  I resigned last fall and moved my children out of the school.  Had I not known the behind the scenes info, I might have kept my children at the school.  (It turns out we are in a school that we like better anyway...so I guess it all worked out.  If I had the chance to be on the school board again, I wouldn't.)

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