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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Board Members are not Bored

This evening marked another school board meeting. There is one regularly scheduled meeting that takes place at 7:00 pm on the first Thursday of each month. The meetings generally consume from an hour to perhaps two or two and a half hours, depending on the issues included on the agenda and the participation of any members of the audience.

Beyond the actual meetings, there's a lot of preparation involved on the part of school board members during the length of their elected terms. They must maintain an awareness of policies and practices that impact the school. They must examine data on the financial health of the school system, the instructional performance of the staff and learners, and state and national influences in the form of legislation and regulation. They must balance the needs of the children with the resource capacity of the community. They must represent the Green Island community in matters of interest and investment. They must make difficult decisions with long term consequences. They must listen with care to their fellow citizens who communicate concerns, ask questions, advocate positions, offer advice, and make demands. They are expected to know everything about the school even though they have their own jobs, families, and countless other responsibilities calling out to them as well.

The role of a board member can often be a thankless and overlooked position, but it clearly contributes to the quality of life within a community. Despite all of the challenges expressed above, every member generously devotes themselves to this civic duty without any compensation for the time, energy, effort, and commitment it takes to be a responsible and effective member of the board of education. Serving as a school board member is among the highest forms of community service. Consider the amount of money necessary to operate a school district each year (nearly $7,000,000.00 for Green Island), the number of people involved (approximately 400 learners and staff members) and the impact their decisions have on the future of children in Green Island (priceless) and you can only imagine what an immense civic duty they perform.

I applaud those school board members everywhere who are willing to act in the best interests of their community, for the future of all children, with little regard to the inherent sacrifice it requires. Rarely have so few, done so much, for so little.

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