Meet Your School Board

In a word - AWOL

Your school board; regionally called school board, board of education, board of directors or some other name; is the body legally elected by taxpayers of the school district to govern the local public education district. That sounds great. A representative body chosen by the people to direct the education of the local students. A body representative of the local norms, ideals, values, and priorities. A council with legislative powers, accountable responsibilities, and transparent policy-making procedures. A democratically elected body of citizens who carefully act as responsible stewards of the taxpayer dollar. Ideal.

In reality your school board is impotent to do any of these things, either by law or by design. Federal and State legislatures and Boards of Education have gathered volumes of laws, rules, regulations, and strings attached to massive amounts of money that keep otherwise well-meaning boards walking on eggshells. Huge money interests fund huge political campaigns at both federal and state levels; forcing curricula, policies, laws, and severe penalties on the taxpayers who – even after the federal and state money is counted, fund most of the district’s programs through local and property taxes. And then, whatever the source, massive bags-full of that money end up back in the bank accounts of those lobbyists, policymakers, and politicians.  And most of the federal and state rules have nothing at all to do with education, little interest in fostering ideal environments for learning, and even less concern with developing critical thinkers. In fact, almost exclusively, these rules are counter-productive to any of that “old school stuff.” What they do is make money and increase the power of the policymakers.

Then there is the actual structure and design of school boards. Your school board is composed of taxpayers from within your school district. These members of the board of directors for your school district are, by law, unpaid. This sounds crazy, but it is good. The last thing you want is for school board jobs to become careers. One brief glance at American politics reinforces that. On the other hand, this structure leaves you with a board of directors who have, necessarily, to work 40-60 hours a week to support themselves and their families. Little time is left for much more than squeezing in a meeting once a month or so. Nobody on your board can spend the time necessary to monitor what the administration is doing, where the money is actually going, visit with taxpayers and parents who feel they have exhausted their voices on the school structure, pay attention to aggrieved teachers, and at the same time perform their most important function of measuring the success of the district’s educational programs.

The answer, of course, is delegation. School boards delegate these important duties to school administrators. School administrators are professional educators, financial wizards, student counselors, social workers, and a myriad of support personnel who, in theory, execute the school board’s policies to secure a brighter future for your children and grandchildren. This staff is headed by a Superintendent, some number of Assistant Superintendents, a larger number of principals, an even larger number of assistant principals, and a huge volume of teachers and support staff all earning anywhere from one-tenth to one-fifth of what those above them are making.

This is how a board of unpaid representatives of the taxpayers is able to manage an entire school district in one meeting per month. In the next segment, we will answer the important question, “How’s that working out for you?


  1. Danielle Const on May 13, 2023 at 5:44 am

    This is description so ACCURATELY fits my own town’s school board!! We are trying to remove the sleepy old members and replace them with alert and aware and active ones who will demand the accountability they are placed there to give. It’s such a slow process, though! We hope to speed the process by educating and informing both the public and the old members.

  2. David Smith on May 23, 2023 at 8:23 am

    There’s certainly a lot to learn about this issue. I like all of the
    points you made.

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