Getting Support from Employers for School Leaders

By Lawrence Hardy

Some board members were skeptical: Why hire two school resource officers for the Thompson School District’s four middle schools? Money was tight, after all, and the teachers union wanted more for instruction. What, exactly, would these police officers do?

Two board members in the Colorado school district saw it differently. One was a parent whose son who had benefited from school-based police. The other was Leslie Young, who offered the board a broad analysis of what school resource officers could accomplish -- how they could provide parents, students, and teachers with a sense of security, help prevent bullying, reach out to students who didn’t quite fit in, and stop typical adolescent disputes from getting out of hand.

Within minutes, the skeptics were sold. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Young is also Lt. Leslie Young of the Loveland Police Department and watch commander of the force’s busy night shift. “The two of us got it moved right through,” Young says of herself and the other board member. “She explained it from a parent’s point of view. I explained it from a police officer’s point of view.”

Most school board members have day jobs. And one benefit of having a board with people from a variety of professions is the expertise and perspective they provide. In addition to helping advise the board on the benefits of school resource officers, Young brings an extensive knowledge of school security and youth crime. Often, she says, when an administrator briefs her on a student’s behavioral problems, “It’s hard for me not to say, ‘Yeah, I know.’”

It’s hard for any professional to juggle board duties with the ever-increasing demands of today’s jobs -- particularly now, during a recession, when employees are being asked to work longer hours and increase productivity. And while it appears the vast majority of employers don’t mind and may even actively encourage employees to volunteer for public service, some make the lives of school board members anything but easy.

Would you like to continue reading?
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.