Dr. Kelly Kohls, the NSBLC President and CEO and former school board member, describes what she experienced as a new school board member, how some of our problems in education developed, and what we can do now.
Good Board Principles
The school board exists to represent the community in the oversight to the activities of the school system. They are the PUBLIC’s connection to public schools. The school board’s purpose is to ensure that the school district operations in the best interest of the community at large, particularly the parents and students in the school district.
It may not be obvious to casual observers that the school board has jurisdiction over ALL school age children within its jurisdiction. While the school board is primarily concerned with students enrolled in traditional public schools, its decisions can impact students attending parochial, charter, private, and home-schooled children.
Download the PDF below to read more about the purpose of a school board.
I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of member of the Board of Education (or Board of School Directors, as the case may be) of (name of School District), in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of ____, and the laws of the State of ____, to the best of my ability.
Make sure you use a legal Oath of Office. In 2014 the Ohio School Boards Association sent out an Oath of Office that omitted the US Constitution. This "Oath" was illegal since Ohio Revised Code requires that the oath includes the US as well as the Ohio Constitutions.
The OSBA has been in business since 1955. Do you think this omission was an accident? Since that happened, it has been discovered that several districts that have used the illegal "Oath" sent out by OSBA.
Become very Knowledgeable about Robert's Rules of Order, otherwise known as parliamentary procedures.
Several versions of cheat sheets for Parliamentary Procedures can be found at the links below.
Dozen's of other videos are available on YouTube covering a variety of topics.
You will want to become familiar with your district Bylaws and Policies. Bylaws include statements about your state law and include some opinion. So, it is best to know the laws that impact your position in your state. Bylaws describe how the board operates while policies describe how the district operates. Policies are most typically written by your contracted services. Many, if not all, of these policies include State revised code and the opinions of the people inside your contracted services. You may want to ask this paid service to highlight in a different color which parts are a reflection on your state laws, and which are their opinions. Each district may have a policy manual, and it should be located online where the community can easily find it. Rely on your community to point to policies that work and do not work.
There are many laws from the Federal, State and local levels that affect your school board, but do any of these laws actually help protect the students, the parents, and the tax payers?
This video will help you understand how the policy makers interpret the laws and write the policies for your school district. It is your job to understand these policies, and learn how you can change or contest these policies.
One thing that is important to know is that there is a federal law (PPRA) that protects the right of the parents to actually see the curriculum, and all materials for your child's classes before your child is exposed to them.
The more you know, the more you can help the families in your school district, so be sure to click on the link below to view this video and read, print and have on hand the Federal act linked below.
(PPRA) PROTECTION OF PUPILS RIGHTS AMENDMENT
Rachel R. Citak is an Ohio-licensed attorney and PR professional at her own legal practice, RACHEL R. CITAK, ATTORNEY AT LAW LLC. Her firm services conservative causes and clients in multiple practice areas such as education law, employment law, religious liberty and freedom of speech. Her conservative advocacy and public relations work has included appearances on local news stations, testifying at the Ohio Statehouse, and penning high profile op-eds. She has extensive experience working at Ohio’s capitol as both a registered lobbyist and in-house counsel. As passionate firearms enthusiasts, Rachel and her husband Rob are active members of the second amendment community in addition to serving as advisory attorneys for the USCCA network.
Senator Andrew Brenner is currently serving in his first term in the Ohio Senate, representing Senate District 19. He previously served four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2011-2018 and as Delaware County Recorder from 2005-2010. Prior to his election as Recorder, he served on the Kingston Township zoning board and as a representative to the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission for Kingston Township.
134th General Assembly Committee Assignments:
- Primary & Secondary Education Committee (Chairman)
- Energy & Public Utilities Committee
- Finance Committee
- Insurance Committee
- Rules & Reference Committee
Job Summary – as a group of district community representatives – set the Mission, Vision, and policies of the district. To hire, evaluate and terminate the Superintendent and treasurer of your district. To continuously evaluate the progress of the district’s financial status, academic progress and to prioritize the services offered by the district.
Responsibilities and Duties – attend all school board meetings to the best of your ability. Vote on agenda items as presented without bias. Investigate, research and discuss the business of the district. Participate, when possible, in committee meetings. Continuously communicate with your community about the district's plans, needs, successes and deficiencies.
Qualifications and Skills – While there are no specific qualifications or skills necessary to be on a school board you must be able to read the documents concerning the business of the district. No prior experiences are necessary.
Salary and Benefits – This depends on the State you work in. Some States have no board member compensation while others offer limited pay and benefits. This level of compensation will be published in your State Revised Code or State Code.
Gifts and Favors = Additional Compensation
Can you take gifts from people? State laws may differ but generally the answer is NO. You are not allowed to take gifts, meals, prizes, etc. from your district or anyone else that may be considered a vendor. You can substitute teach or work in other districts, but not your own. If the district ever offers you anything more than something with a value of $25 you are not allowed by law to take it. Don't get caught taking an illegal offering. In Ohio, the state law calls taking a gift worth more than $25, additional compensation. Don't allow anyone to give you anything worth more than $25, or the max allowed in your state. For example, your legal counsel may buy you lunch but not over $25 value. In Ohio, see Ohio Revised Code - 1907.17. Additional compensation.
Where are our elected school board members?
This graphic depicts how insulated School Board Members are from community input. Unfortunately, the majority of the messaging school board members get is from the system and its interested parties. It becomes extremely important that you maintain contact with your community and that you keep informing them about what is going on. You were not elected to be a "cheerleader" for the district but to be a conduit of information. Remember lazy ineffective school board members go along to get along and simply parrot what the district wants them to say. Be a good school board member and break the shell of insulation between you and your constituents. Do your job and always talk to the community.
We’re gathering together all of this information and it will be here shortly. Please check back in a often.
Most Common Committees
Be it resolved that the [DISTRICT NAME] Board of Education hereby establishes a Budget and Finance Committee with authority to review, investigate, advise, and recommend to the board on all matters related to school district financial forecasting and financial reporting. The committee shall operate according to Board bylaws section 0155. The committee shall operate in consultation with the Superintendent and Treasurer, or their designees and the Board's attorney as required for the performance of its duties. The board appoints _________________ as chairman and __________________ as member of the Budget and Finance Committee until the board appoints successors or the board's next organizational meeting.
Others depending on issues facing the district
Board lead committees, Chaired by an appointed board member, Agenda set by the chairman, Subject to the open meetings law (notice and minutes required).
Board sets the agenda in consultation with administration
Committee recommendations approved by a vote of participating board members
Administration supports the committee, Committee chairman reports to the board
Committees make recommendations to the board not decisions on behalf of the board
Resolution forming a board policy committee:
Be it resolved that the ____________________ Schools Board of Education hereby establishes a Policy Committee with authority to review, investigate, advise, and recommend to the board on all matters related to Board policies. The committee shall operate according to Board bylaws section __________. The committee shall operate in consultation with the Superintendent and Treasurer, or their designees and the Board's attorney as required for the performance of its duties. The board hereby appoints _____________ as chairman and ______________as members of the Policy Committee until the board appoints successors or the board's next organizational meeting.
School Board members should feel comfortable and confident when both reading and writing resolutions. Resolutions must be presented as a motion at a school board meeting.
Once a board member is recognized by the board president they can read their resolution. Another board member must second the motion to bring their motion to the floor for discussion.
Motions can be amended (with subsequent votes taken to accept the amendments). Once the motion has been discussed and possibly amended a board member can call the question (only once the floor has been vacated). This means that a board member shall always be allowed to present their motion in completion before the "question" (vote) is taken. No one should be allowed to interrupt, or "call the question", the person who is speaking after they have been granted that opportunity by the board president.
If a board member, presenting the motion is interrupted, the board president should call, "Point of Order", meaning the flow of "Robert's Rules of Order" has been disrupted and the speaker can continue to present the motion and the rationale for its presentation.
After every board member and possibly the administrators have had a chance to speak about the motion and its amendments another board member can call the question. Calling the "Question" simply means the question requester thinks it is time to take the final vote. Most typically a roll call vote is taken.
The maker of the motion should submit the motion in writing preferably to the Secretary and President to avoid missing any language that might confuse the body.
1:00 – Short resolution sample and discussion
5:45 – Longer and more formal resolution discussion
Jim is a retired, two-term, school board member from Springboro Ohio. As a member of the Springboro Board of Education Jim served as chairman of the board policy committee and member of the finance committee.
He participated as a board representative in contract negotiations. After the Sandy Hook incident, Jim chaired the board’s Safety Committee charged with identifying ways to improve the safety environment within the school district.
Jim was a co-founder of Educate Springboro, a political action committee that was created to influence school financial policy, where he created the Children First Budget process.