October 2009 Your Turn

Serving on a school board is a complex job, and Your Turn readers believe newcomers need some kind of formal or informal orientation. Eighty-four percent of you said your district offers some type of orientation, with slightly more choosing the informal approach.

“The superintendent and I visit with new members and go over boardsmanship and general topics that we feel will help new members get a feel for what they are facing and what they should expect,” wrote Bob Bold, Pennsylvania board president. “We also encourage them to attend four educational sessions our state organization provides on finance, mandates, etc.”

Other districts take a more formal approach.

“We have a policy describing all materials that a new board member receives,” said New York state board member Lori Nelson. “We assign a current board member as a mentor. The president, vice president and superintendent meet the newly elected board member shortly after the election for a meeting, describing current initiatives. Our board retreat is scheduled for late June or early July and the new board member attends. Our local association provides a pre-election seminar and post-election seminar on board functions.”

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