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Becoming a school board member

Filed in Archive by on May 4, 2020

A school board member takes on one of the most important citizen responsibilities: overseeing the education of the community’s youth. In these challenging times for public education, school boards are seeking individuals who find satisfaction in confronting tough challenges and working collaboratively to rise above them and help students in the community succeed.

The board of education oversees and manages the community’s public school system. It ensures the public schools are flexible and responsive to the needs of the community. School boards are comprised of volunteers within the community who dedicate their time to better public education.

The Bethlehem Central Board of Education has seven members. These volunteers serve three-year terms. Terms are staggered so all board positions are never open at the same time.

Responsibilities of a Board Member
With students always as their focus, school board members work together to accomplish the following:

  • Create a shared vision for the future of education
  • Set the direction of the school district to achieve the highest student performance
  • Provide rigorous accountability for student  achievement results
  • Develop a budget and present it to the community, aligning district resources to improve achievement
  • Support a healthy school district culture for work and learning
  • Create strategic partnerships with the community stakeholders
  • Build the district’s progress through continuous improvement
  • Adopt and maintain current policies
  • Hire and evaluate the superintendent
  • Ratify collective bargaining agreements
  • Maintain strong ethical standards

Characteristics of a Board Member
Below are attributes that all effective board members should possess.

  • Effective Communicator: Can describe what he or she wants and describe what others want; a good listener
  • Consensus Builder: Capable of working toward decisions that all can support and willing to compromise to achieve goals
  • Community Participant: Enjoys meeting a variety of people, can identify the community’s key communicators and reaches out to the community
  • Decision Maker: Is comfortable making decisions and can support group decision-making
  • Information Processor: Can organize priorities and schedules to handle large amounts of verbal and written information
  • Leader: Willing to take risks, be supportive of board colleagues, district staff and community
  • Team Player: Helps promote the board’s vision and goals

Running for Your Local School Board
Once you have made the commitment to run for your local school board, there are requirements, deadlines, and processes that must be adhered to.

Eligibility Requirements
Individuals are eligible for election to the Board if they are qualified voters of the district (district resident, U.S. citizen, 18 and older) and can read and write. New York State Education Law does not limit the number of terms of office a member may serve.

Source: New York State School Boards Association