The Daily Item
I am a former member of the Midd-West School District board of directors. Prior to being elected, I had no experience. I knew very little about the “job,” my fellow board members, teachers, staff or administrators. What I did know was that I did not like the direction that the school district was moving toward and wanted to make a positive difference. I had a great interest in the educational success of our students and two of those students were my own.
I had the opportunity to attend new board member training offered by the PSBA (Pennsylvania School Boards Association). The two-day training was held at the PSBA Conference Center in Mechanicsburg for eight hours on both a Saturday and Sunday. I learned a wealth of information that I was able to use to help guide me through this important task at hand. I would like to share some of the key points that I had learned, in hopes that the current board may pick up on a few of them.
A school board member has no power individually as it is a governing body of nine members. The school board does not operate the district. School board members should not take matters into their own hands when it comes to issues or complaints; there is a proper chain of command to follow. School board members should be a positive influence for education, not bad-mouth the curriculum, educators and policies. Members should act appropriately and with class — we are a model for our students. The school board works together as a team with the superintendent and administrators with one goal in mind: the education of its students.
During my term, the board president and other board members attended trainings, meetings and conferences to stay current with policies, procedures and to ensure that they were staying current with the education of Pennsylvania and could serve to the best of their ability. We also took part in training as an entire board. This was held on our school campus. The superintendent, assistant superintendent, business manager and supervisor of special education covered such topics such as: school finance, communications and procedures, special education, programs and technology, the role of a board member, and goals for the future of Midd-West. Sadly, not all members attended.
I strongly believe that school board training should be mandatory for newly elected members and veteran members as well. Pennsylvania education has and is changing more now than ever. School boards hold a key to educational effectiveness. Studies, such as the Iowa Lighthouse Study, have confirmed what many have already known to be true — strong school board governance leads to successful student achievement.