A few years ago, a national survey queried board members about how much time they spent on school board business.  Nearly 42% spent 25 hours or more a month, while one in five spent more than 40 hours a month.

This won’t come as news to board members.  They know very well that school board service requires commitment, dedication and, yes, hours of work each month.

Each January, we salute local school board members and all that they do. Honoring school board members not only serves to thank current members; it also helps raise public awareness of the roles and responsibilities of local boards of education and builds respect for their work.

On Jan. 2, Gov. Phil Murphy proclaimed January 2020 as School Board Recognition Month in New Jersey, citing the “countless hours, without remuneration” spent by nearly 5,000 local board members who oversee operations in school districts.  In his proclamation, the governor acknowledged the important role board members play in making New Jersey’s public schools among the best in the nation.

At the most recent monthly meeting of the State Board of Education, Dr. Larry Feinsod and I accepted the State Board’s resolution honoring school board members. “New Jersey’s locally elected and appointed boards of education play a vital role in … providing an outstanding education to prepare all students for college and the workplace and to enable them to compete in a global economy,” the resolution states.  

NJSBA also shines a spotlight on board service annually by honoring a local board of education member whose work has had a positive impact on the education of the children of his or her community and the state. An independent out-of-state panel reviews the nominations and selects the winner.

This year, the board member honored is Judith Bassford, from the Clifton Board of Education.

Judy exemplifies the spirit of public service and dedication to the health and well-being of public school students. She has worked tirelessly on behalf of students with special needs and their families, and to fight drug abuse and increase graduation rates. You can read more about Judy’s remarkable service in the profile of her in this issue of School Leader, beginning on page 29.

In the first floor conference room at NJSBA headquarters in Trenton, there is a wall of photos of Board Members of the Year, dating back to 2005, when NJSBA began the program. If you have the opportunity to visit headquarters, I urge you to take a moment to look at this group of remarkable board members. They serve as an enduring reminder of the dedication and the contributions of New Jersey’s local board of education members.