The Essential Work of School Boards
The Essential Work of Vermont School Boards is available in hard copy through the VSBA for $15.00 plus shipping.
A new version of Essentials will be published in the spring of 2016.
To order a copy of the new book, use the link to the right for the order form.
Click here for a VSBA Powerpoint Presentation on the Essential Work of School Boards.
Click here for a copy of the VSBA Model Code of Ethics for School Board Members.
Click here for a copy of the Board Self-Assessment Survey
Build a shared vision for education in the community
The board needs to build a shared vision which will guide the work of the school system. This requires the board to engage with the community in order to identify values and aspirations, and to be informed by the educational staff with data and research on best practices.
The vision needs to focus on outcomes for student learning which reflect community values as well as educational research and best practices, not on prescribing how the work will get done.
Establish policy parameters to carry out the vision
The first task of a school board, as defined in statute, is to establish policies. Policies document the school system’s priorities and set parameters.
A policy approved by the board describes what should be done while implementation procedures designed and carried out by administrators describe how things will be done.
Hire a superintendent to provide leadership and to manage the school system
The board hires a superintendent to lead and manage the school system. The board supports the superintendent’s efforts to achieve the vision, and the board holds the superintendent accountable for results.
The board needs to provide latitude for the superintendent to do his/her job, and the board needs to be disciplined in reviewing the results within established policy.
Monitor progress toward the vision.
The board is accountable to the community for student learning outcomes and system operations outcomes. On a regular basis, it needs to monitor the indicators that measure progress on those outcomes.
Develop and adopt a budget to support the vision
Assure sound financial oversight
Boards have an important role in assuring the education system has sufficient resources to achieve its vision and in providing high-level financial oversight to assure that resources are properly managed on behalf of taxpayers.
Engage the community in supporting the education of students
The board needs to engage the community in defining the outcomes they want for their students. Once those outcomes are defined, the board then takes on the responsibility for monitoring progress toward those ends, and making decisions to fulfill those agreed upon outcomes.
Communities are also called upon annually to support schools financially. Therefore, a goal of the board should be to build community confidence in public education, to create a culture of parent and community engagement and to strengthen support for public schools.
Fulfill other legally-mandated responsibilities
Boards have additional specific duties that support the overall operation of the schools. In a number of areas around personnel issues or student-specific concerns, the board serves as a quasi-judicial board to resolve disputes if they are appealed after action by administrators.
In addition, boards are the entities that are authorized to collectively bargain contracts with school district employees.