COLUMNIST: School board flies at 30,000 feet

BY MATT SCHOEN

Superintendent, Delano Public Schools

 

Every once in a while people stop and ask me, “What exactly does the school board do?”

This type of question might put off some people, but I think it is very important that our community has a good understanding of the role of our elected school board members.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with our newly elected board member, Mark Larson. The purpose of this meeting was to give Mark information he would need in order to transition into the office of school board member on Jan. 7. Basically, this meeting covers training opportunities that are offered through the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA), general information about the role of a school board member and decision making processes, types of school board meetings and how school board meetings are conducted, and additional information involving school district policy.

To answer the initial question, district policy states, “The care, management and control of the schools is vested by statutory and constitutional authority in the school board. The school board shall carry out the mission of the school district with diligence, prudence, and dedication to the ideals of providing the finest public education.”

Basically, by its definition, the school board is the governing body of the school district. Elected school board members have binding authority only when “acting as a school board legally in session.” In other words, the school board is a policy making board that is responsible for the governing of all educational programs within a school district. The school board relies on the superintendent to carry out such educational programs.

What I stated above is the basic role of a school board. An analogy I often use is that a school board flies at 30,000 feet and relies on the superintendent and other educational professionals to manage the day- to-day operations of a school district.

With that said, I would like to acknowledge Peter Brasket for his service as a school board member for the past seven years. Peter has fulfilled many roles on the board, including chair. One of the most important roles that Peter has fulfilled in the past few years has been as a board member with institutional and historical knowledge that has allowed him to mentor other newly appointed or elected school board members. Peter’s service to our school district has been invaluable and very much appreciated, not only from the perspective of fellow board members, but also from my perspective as superintendent at Delano Public Schools. Peter’s leadership has guided our school district through a multitude of bond and levy questions to accommodate our past and potential future growth.

I also would like to acknowledge all of the school board members, past and present, for their leadership and service to Delano Public Schools.

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