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Hardest Lessons

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Experienced board members from across the nation were asked to identify the most difficult lesson or fact they had to learn about board service. Here’s what they said most often.

 

  • Learning to acknowledge publicly that you have no power and authority as an individual board member; that only the board as a whole can make policies and decisions for the school district.
  • Determining what your function is on the board and how to accomplish it effectively.
  • That no matter what you think you know about board service when you first come on board, you still have a lot to learn.
  • Recognizing the difference between setting policy (the board’s job) and administering the schools (the superintendent’s job).
  • That you must represent all the students. Your decisions must be made in the interest of the total school system and not made solely for special groups or interests.
  • Learning how to respond to the complaints and concerns of citizens, school administrators, and other staff.
  • That change comes slowly.
  • That you can’t solve everyone’s problems by yourself.
  • That you must think deeply and sometimes accept a reality that is contrary to your own beliefs.
  • That elective board service means being able to hold the minority viewpoint when voting on a given issue, then openly supporting the majority vote of the board in your community.
  • Discovering how the schools are funded.
  • That the primary focus of all board decisions must be student achievement.