What does a school board do?

When you’re elected to serve on the board, your education has just begun. Board service is like inheriting the reins of a corporation without any training. The “learning curve” for education leaders is steep. Plan to spend time in workshops and conferences. Training is essential to running a complex education system. OSBA equips board members with the leadership training they need to feel comfortable in their roles and to do their best.

The board’s major responsibility is setting policy. The board hires a superintendent or college president who in turn hires staff to put policies into practice. The chief executive is accountable to the board for managing the district according to board policies.

Because they serve the community, board members must work with the public as they establish the mission and direction of education. It’s up to the board to engage the community in public education.

A board member must be a skilled decision-maker and team player, a public-education advocate, a vital link between community and school, and a policy maker.

As a public employer, the board establishes policies that govern the recruitment, employment, supervision, evaluation and dismissal of employees.

Board members must also do the following:

  • Establish budgets
  • Set goals, evaluate progress toward those goals
  • Ask voters to approve bond measures and local option levies for facilities and operations
  • Guide collective bargaining
  • Choose transportation systems
  • Evaluate the superintendent, college president or chief executive

We encourage you to become actively involved with OSBA if you are elected to a school, ESD or community college board.