Prior to the Election - Prepare for the Job!

Becoming a Board member can be an overwhelming experience when one considers that the night you will be sworn in, you will be required to make decisions that will affect your district and the expectation will be that you are already well-versed for the job.

So, as the scout motto suggests: be prepared. Actually, on an average, it takes one to two years for a Board member to understand the entirety of the job and to be comfortable with the position, a fairly large learning curve, so help yourself and your district by learning as much up front as you can. The following activities will provide a knowledge base for you to be ready to assume your Board seat the night of your inauguration:

1. Attend School Board Meetings - Attending meetings will provide you information about the
district, but, most importantly, will give you the ability to see how the Board operates and
what exactly the proceedings of a Board meeting are priorto you sitting at the Board table.

2. Read the District's Board Policies and Regulations - Policies are the backbone of the
district. All districts have policies by which they operate and one of the primary jobs of the
Board is to set policy. Reading the Board policies will give you an understanding of the
district and the basis for which the district operates. Included in the Board policies are the
Board bylaws that provide the basis for the operation of the Board. You will be expected
to have a clear understanding of how the Board operates the night you take your Board

3. Read the District's Board Minutes - Reading the Board minutes (at least over the last
year) will give a historic perspective of the district and Board operations. It will provide
information on the decisions the Board has acted on and what types of actions likely to be
brought to the Board. Reviewing more than one year of Board minutes will provide the
cyclical process of many of the agenda items.

4. Interview the District's Administration - Make appointments with the Board President (and
other Board members), Superintendent, Chief Business & Operations Officer, and
School Principals to provide an opportunity to get to know the people you will be working with
and for them to get to know you. These interviews provide an excellent opportunity to get
clarification of district and school operations, as well as the style and insight of each

5. Visit the School Sites - Make appointments with the principals to take a tour of each
school. This will give you the opportunity to meet staff and to see the educational programs
in operation. Touring the district's schools will provide an understanding of the school
facilities and the needs and strengths of each school site. Many of the decisions you will
make as a Board member will affect the use and operation of the school facilities.

6. Review District Documents - Reading and reviewing the district's budget will give you the
financial priorities and fiscal standing of the district. Other documents to review are the
district's Facilities Master Plan, Employee Association Contracts, Curriculum and
Assessment handbooks, Personnel handbooks, School Site handbooks, District Goals
document, and other appropriate documents that the Superintendent might suggest.
Many districts have new Board member packets that you could request.

7. Use Available Resources to Provide Education About the Board Positions - Several
organizations are designed to promote a Board member's education. Some will provide this
service to individuals running for Board seats prior to being elected.

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