Invest in the future: Serve on your local school board

Posted July 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm

It’s alternately been described as the “most important volunteer job in this country” and the “toughest job in American elected government.” It is the epitome of democracy in action, and it is fundamental to the future of our communities, our state and our nation.

“It” is the job of school board members, and with school board elections coming up this fall, now is the time for civic-minded citizens to consider stepping up to the challenge of this important public service.

Even now, while students enjoy the summer holiday, school boards are working to address a myriad of challenges in public education. Improving and assessing student learning, reducing the performance gap for poor and minority students, providing for smaller class sizes, promoting school safety — these are just some of the issues on the school board agendas around the state.

The local school board also serves as a vital link between the community and the classroom-making policy, setting budgets and providing leadership and advocacy for public education.

As “governors” of the school district, board members perform critical functions in four major areas:

• Vision: The board focuses the work of the district and community on student achievement through a comprehensive strategic planning process.

• Structure: The board governs the district through prudent financial planning and oversight, and diligent and innovative policy making.

• Accountability: The board infuses all programs and crucial policies with specific goals and a process for evaluation, reporting and recommendations for improvements.

• Advocacy: The board champions public education in the local community and before state and federal policy makers.

Board Members’ Characteristics

Each school board member brings his or her own style of leadership to school board service. Where there is no “ideal” working style, there are certain basic characteristics that contribute to successful school board service.

Effective school board members:

• Have a sincere interest in public education and are committed to ensuring a quality education for the boys and girls in their communities.

• Are respected and involved in their communities,

• Bring with them a broad base of knowledge and experience

• Are willing to spend long hours working as a team with other board members to benefit the school district and the community.

Public education is a promise to our children; a promise that they will be prepared for the challenge of being responsible citizens of our society.

Serving your community as a school board member means making a commitment to the children and being a part of honoring that promise.

Akron-Westfield Board Seats Open

Three school board members’ terms are on this September school board election. Nick Schoenfelder, District No. 1 representative; Phil Parks, District No. 2 representative; and Josh Martinsen, District No. 3.

People, who are age 18 or older, a U.S. citizen and living in those districts, may seek a school board seat.

Please note nominations opened Monday, July 8, and prospective candidates and incumbents have until 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 1 to turn in their nomination petition to A-W Board Secretary Jodi Ryan. For more information, go to the school’s website: www.akron-westfield.com or call Ryan at 712-568-2020.

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