School Boards' Complex Roles

By Doug Eadie

“Meeting the Governance Challenge,” my early bird workshop at NSBA’s Annual Conference this year, focused on the decisions and judgments that are the great majority of a high-impact board’s work, such as shaping and adopting the annual budget or monitoring your district’s educational and financial performance. But we also spent some time talking about the valid nongoverning --  what we might call hands-on doing --  work of the school board.

I agreed with participants that school boards must be careful and not get so involved doing things that they lapse into what’s popularly known as “micromanagement” or end up devoting too little attention to their governing work. But boards have a very valid nongoverning role in district external/community relations.

We agreed that three kinds of board diplomatic involvement make sense:

• A board speakers bureau.

• Board member facilitation of community forums.

• Board member participation in maintaining high-priority relationships with key groups.

In this column, I’ll summarize some key points raised during our discussion of school board members as a “diplomatic corps.”

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