Role of the Board of Education

Many of the districts in our study showed evidence of particular characteristics of their boards of education (BOE) that they found productive and helpful.

Educators at every level credit their BOEs with providing guidance without micromanaging and with being geared toward understanding rather than persuading. Major themes related to supportive BOE practices in school districts were: Focused on students’ well-being; supportive of initiatives and recommendations from community members, staff, administration, and students; visible and accessible.

Those themes run throughout the case studies at every level -- elementary, middle, and high school. A few particular examples include:

  • At Gotham Ave. Elementary School, the BOE was described as very “hands-on”—where board members enjoyed visiting buildings and interacting with staff, administration, and students. In addition, the board recognizes academic achievements of their students at their board meetings. (case study, p. 11)
  • At Greene High School, BOE members were credited as successfully staying “at 30,000 feet” in avoiding micromanaging, yet existing at 5 - 6 feet with remaining accessible to the community. “The superintendent also credits the board of education for its role in maintaining equilibrium between providing for educational needs and honoring the community’s ability to pay for them. ‘They see themselves as a board of education, not necessarily as a board of taxation,’ he says, adding that, ‘We have well-defined roles. They represent the will of the community; I need to follow that will.’” (case study, p. 3)
  • In Honeoye Falls-Lima High School, the Board of Education was described as “…mature, responsible, and reflective.” The board is seen as “very respectful of the role professionals play in curriculum and instruction.” For example, “The superintendent reports strong, supportive leadership throughout the district. She characterizes the Board of Education as ‘mature, responsible and reflective. They don’t micromanage and are very respectful of the role of professionals.’ The administration and Board of Education attend a summer retreat where they look at the data and assess how the district is meeting its goals.” (case study, p. 4)
  • In the case of Holland, the board is audience to newer teachers’ portfolio work, yet the hiring process is left solely to administration and staff. In addition, teacher groups are expected to present their curriculum maps at board meetings, showing where they are in the curriculum and why. (case study, p. 5)
  • In Mannsville Manor, the board sets goals that guide but do not dictate narrow aims. Educators at the Elementary School note “the clear connection between the broad goals set by the Board of Education and the goals that are conveyed to students: high expectations for academic achievement; physical, social, and emotional wellbeing; and the promotion of partnerships that nurture those expectations. (case study, p. 2)
  • Newer board members in Queensbury worked with a New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) trainer to develop effective processes for the superintendent and board in developing a strategic plan and setting goals. Training included follow-up meetings every summer. The board set academic goals and “professional development permeates the district from the Board of Education to administrators, teachers and support staff.” (case study, pp. 3, 6)
  • The board’s role in Vernon-Verona-Sherrill is defined as representing the will of the community. “The superintendent also credits the Board of Education for its role in maintaining equilibrium between providing for educational needs and honoring the community’s ability to pay for them. ‘They see themselves as a board of education, not necessarily as a board of taxation,’ he says, adding that, ‘We have well-defined roles. They represent the will of the community; I need to follow that will.’” (case study, p. 1)

                                                                                                                  Last updated or reviewed 8/24/2012