Talking to your school/ESD/Community college board

This sample article can be used in your local newspaper, parent organization newsletters, service club newsletters, your district/college newsletter, school newsletters or as the basis for a speech. Make the necessary changes in the text to fit practices in your organization. Remember, if you submit this article for publication in a general circulation newspaper, all readers may not live in your area, so adjust the text appropriately and be clear that different boards may handle things differently. If you use it as an article, consider giving your superintendent/president or board president a by-line.

Our board members volunteer many hours of their time for the benefit of our community’s students and children. They know they represent large numbers of citizens who elected them to their positions, and they want to hear from those citizens about issues that are critical to all students they represent. At the same time, they are very much aware that their role is to hire the superintendent or president, set policy and adopt goals; the superintendent/president and other administrators are responsible for day-to-day operations.

When you are considering taking a concern to a board member, ask yourself if the board is the proper place for this concern. Here’s a quick checklist to help you with that decision:

If I am concerned about something, have I already talked to those closest to the problem and tried to resolve it there? If it wasn’t resolved there, have I followed the chain of command through the superintendent or president? Is it still unresolved?
Is my concern something that affects all students in my district or region, rather than one student, one classroom or one school?
If my concern is an idea, comment or question about daily operations, have I talked with the appropriate administrator?

If your answer to these questions is "yes" but you are still not satisfied that the problem has been solved, you have probably followed the right "chain of command" and should think about contacting the board.

If you want to write to school board members, call the school district office at (give district phone number) for the board members’ names and addresses.

If you want to speak to the board at a meeting, we have established the following procedures so we can hear from concerned members of our community. (Describe your board’s procedures or use the following text.) People who want to talk about an item which is on the agenda may be called on at the time that agenda item is discussed. Those who want to speak about an item that is not on the agenda are usually called upon during a time set aside at the meeting for this purpose. In order to give everyone a fair chance in the time available, there may be a time limit placed on each person who speaks. You will want to organize your thoughts and be ready to stay within the allotted time.

If you want to talk informally with board members, we’ve set up the following ways for you to do that: (use whatever is appropriate for your district.)

  • E-mail addresses on the Internet.
  • A call-in phone line (list the phone number) where you can leave messages for board members and expect to get answers to your questions.
  • Informal coffees held on a regular basis by individual board members or groups of board members (list times, dates and locations); or
  • Public forums hosted by the board of directors (list times, date and locations). These may be focused on one subject or be an open discussion period on any subject.

If you want to work with our board for the benefit of the students in our community, invite board members to attend community events and meetings. Ask them to describe what is going on in the local schools or community colleges and discuss education issues. You can also volunteer to serve on a board-appointed committee or offer to host a coffee and dessert social in your home for school board members to meet other community members/parents. 

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