We all know that local school board members are uncompensated public officials who volunteer significant amounts of their personal time, talents, knowledge, skills and expertise to help see that our schools are well run.
When I attended the recent New Board Member Weekend Orientation program, I observed other traits that seem to be universally found among school board members: intelligence, enthusiasm and dedication –that is, a commitment to providing a quality education for all New Jersey’s public schoolchildren. In fact, the level of dedication I see among board members is such that they regularly sacrifice quality family and work time to participate in board service.
Board member responsibilities include such important tasks as district policy development, the approval of personnel actions upon the recommendation of the superintendent/chief school administrator, budget development, financial oversight of the district, and the hiring and evaluation of the superintendent. In many New Jersey communities, the local school district is the largest employer and also has the largest budget of any public or private entity. In a real way, a municipality’s schools are at the center of civic life in the community.
I have also observed that New Jersey’s school board members hold a belief that is an essential requirement of any good school system: They believe that all children can succeed. They are focused on seeing that our children will be college and career-ready by the time they graduate from high school. Research shows that achievement begins with a belief that all children can learn.
School board members in New Jersey are some of the best trained public officials in the nation. At a recent State Board of Education Meeting, the president of that group proclaimed January as “School Board Member Recognition Month.” Mark Biedron, the State Board president, also remarked that he believes that NJSBA is the best school board association in the nation. That is a reflection of the quality, dedication and hard work of our Association staff, and of all the school board member volunteers who give even more of their time to be active in the NJSBA.
I am proud to serve as the president of the New Jersey School Boards Association, and I look forward to working with the membership to continue our work of helping to improve the lives of all of our state’s children.