I extend a hearty congratulations and welcome to those readers who began their board of education service in January.
New members may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the range of topics they need to address. And there is no better way to get up to speed on board member responsibilities than by attending training, and making use of the many resources available from the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Your first training experience as a new board member may be Governance I (the new board member orientation), which you must complete during your first year in office.
But orientation is just one of many professional development opportunities that will enhance your skills as a board member.
Your county school boards association holds five meetings a year that provide training in various subjects; these meetings also give you a chance to interact with local board members from neighboring districts. NJSBA also holds a variety of statewide and regional programs. Currently on the calendar are programs on education technology (March 2), a labor relations program on salary guides (March 18), a school public relations forum (April 7); a sustainability conference (May 24), and a school security and student safety conference (June 2). Then there is the annual Workshop, to be held this year Oct. 23-26, which will have more than 250 training programs. This is the premier training event for New Jersey’s local school officials.
Beyond training, there are person-to-person resources NJSBA can offer. If you have a question, a dedicated NJSBA field service representative can assist you. To locate your FSR, go to our website and type your district name into the “Find Your FSR” box, and the contact information for your FSR will pop up. If you have a legal question, the Association’s attorney of the day is on call to answer your questions. NJSBA’s toll-free number is 888-88NJSBA.
Still hungry for information? The “Publications and Resources” page of the NJSBA website has several free, downloadable publications, including a 118-page book, Fundamentals of School Board Membership, that addresses a board member’s responsibilities, as well as tips and strategies for success. The News and Information section of the website also has nearly 100 archived podcasts of our internet radio show, “Conversations on New Jersey Education;” three years’ worth of back issues of School Leader; and a link to several highly-regarded research studies NJSBA has conducted. I encourage you to thoroughly explore our website.
While you may be finding school board service more challenging than you first expected, I think you will also find it more rewarding than you thought possible. I have served on a board for 20 years and can tell you that I look back with pride and pleasure at the accomplishments of my board and the students in my district, Manchester Township. One point of pride is knowing that I am working every day to improve the educational opportunities for the children in my district and throughout the state. Thank you for your willingness to join the ranks of those who serve New Jersey’s 1.4 million public school students.