Boardsmanship 101 - Tips for new board members

Congratulations to our recently elected or appointed board members! When you take your oath of office at your first board meeting, you are entrusted with one of the most important jobs in your community.

As a school board member, you are responsible for educating all of the children in your district. This is no easy task; the hours are long and the thanks few. But the rewards are many.

OSBA’s leadership staff developed these tips to help new board members.

  • Review the board operations section of your district’s policy manual.
  • Know your board member code of conduct backwards and forwards.  An example can be found here.
  • Review the board meeting minutes from the past half-dozen meetings to become familiar with issues being discussed by the board.
  • Meet with your superintendent to obtain a clear understanding of the district’s budget. Ask lots of questions.
  • Assume your position with an open mind. Abandon preconceived notions and hidden agendas, including opinions about administrators, teachers, and other staff and board members.
  • Remember, you will be making decisions that affect the children of your district. Always keep their best interest in mind.
  • Realize that you don’t know everything, and capitalize on every opportunity to learn.
  • Expect to be in the minority on board decisions once in a while and accept the majority decision graciously. The time to voice your opinions about issues is before the vote is taken.
  • Expect some board decisions to be unpopular with your constituents or even the community at large.
  • You have only one vote. Your issues can only be successful if you convince two, three or four (depending the size of your board) other board members to vote with you.
  • Do not surprise your superintendent, administrators or your fellow board members at a public meeting with unexpected comments or requests.
  • Be flexible and willing to compromise.
  • Be a good listener. Superintendents, administrators, teachers, students and community members can help you learn more about your job.
  • Stay connected with your schools, teachers and students.
  • Your role is to establish policy and set goals. It is up to the superintendent to manage the district and get it where the board says it needs to go.
  • Learn your district’s chain of command. Refer all complaints to the proper person.
  • Understand and abide by Oregon’s Public Meetings Law.
  • Have fun, and enjoy your role of helping kids!

Please contact the OSBA office with any questions you might have about school board service. We encourage you to become an active OSBA member.

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