Understanding Your School Board
What are the key roles and responsibilities of a school board?
- Ensure creation of a vision and goals for the district; evaluate district success.
- Adopt policies that guide district actions.
- Hire a superintendent to serve as administrator of the district and evaluate the superintendent’s success.
- Approve an annual budget consistent with the district vision.
- Communicate the district’s vision and success to the community.
Is there special training involved in being a school board member?
School board members are required by Texas law and the State Board of Education to participate in three types of continuing education:
- An orientation to local district policy and to the laws affecting public education in Texas;
- An annual team-building activity, taken in conjunction with the rest of the board and the superintendent; and
- A specified number of hours each year in areas of special need. Boards determine these needs annually by reviewing the Framework for School Board Development, a document that outlines the tasks an effective board performs in its governing capacity.
How do school boards make decisions?
A school board is a governmental body, so it can take action only by a majority vote at a legally called public meeting. The individual board member’s major responsibility is to study issues facing the district, evaluate needs and resources, and, after due consideration, vote in the best interest of all students at such a meeting.
Can patrons attend school board meetings?
School boards must meet in compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Act and make public records available according to the Freedom of Information Act and Texas Public Information Act. Citizens are welcome at all school board meetings except in a few legally specified circumstances calling for closed meetings.
Can patrons participate in school board meetings?
Many school boards allow citizen participation and have policies communicating how and when patrons may contribute their input. Individuals wishing to address the Alief ISD Board of Trustees must:
- Fill out a patron presentation card (available at the meeting site) and give it to the superintendent’s secretary.
- Address all comments to the Board.
The Board president may limit the length of patron presentations and the number of patrons addressing the same issue. The Board will not comment or act on any item that is not included on the meeting agenda.
Reprinted in part by permission from the Texas Association of School Boards