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 prior to 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 seat. Board Policies can be found on this website under District - Board of Education.

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 individual.

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 the District's Website - Reading and reviewing the District's website will provide insight to the structure of the District, staffing, departmental roles, and master plans. Reviewing such things as the budget (Departments - Business Services - 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.

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. The California School Boards Association is an excellent resource!

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