Prospective School Board Candidates Get Inside Look at the Role
Despite – or maybe because of – the challenges faced in education today, many people are eager to know more about serving on a school board. About 30 residents of area school districts gathered over coffee at Erie 1 BOCES on a recent Saturday morning to learn about school board service from school attorneys, a school superintendent, and new and veteran school board members.
Discussions included what it’s like to run for office and what it's really like to serve on a school board.
Attorneys from Hodgson Russ explained the election process and various issues pertaining to school boards and the law. The importance of the superintendent-school board relationship in school governance also was discussed. Round table discussions were held so participants could ask questions and discuss topics of concern to them.
This program is presented as a community service by the Erie County Association of School Boards. ECASB wishes all candidates good luck in their elections and reminds them that if they are successful, they can register through their Superintendent’s office for local sessions on June 8th for the NYS-mandated, 6-hour training in Governance & Accountability, and June 15th for the NYS-mandated 6-hour training in Fiscal Oversight & Responsibility.
What to Look for in a School Board Candidate
On May 21st, school district residents across the state will vote on local school budgets and candidates for their school boards. Here are some questions for voters to think about when considering a candidate:
1) Does the candidate have the time to devote to school board meetings, work sessions and planning sessions, school events, and the community meetings and outreach that the positon entails?
2) Is the candidate a team player? As individuals, school board members can't change much. A board's power comes from its ability to work together. Can the candidate "disagree agreeably"? Can the candidate move issues to the next level, without disruption and divisiveness?
3) Does the candidate have strong interpersonal skills? Certain traits lead to strong interpersonal relationships. Is the candidate trustworthy, honest? Can they maintain communication, consistency, confidentiality?
4) Is the candidate concerned about the entire district, or is the candidate narrowly focused? We all have particular interests and concerns, but an elected school board member must be able to see the broader view and the bigger picture.
5) Is the candidate a learner? A candidate may have a particular expertise or familiarity with the educational system, but every candidate has some gap in skills or knowledge that must be filled while on the job. Is the candidate a learner? That's vital, because there always will be more to learn.
'When a school board focuses mightily on its mission ... it's a powerful thing ...'
"I think that boards of all kinds are indispensable. When it works as it should, the local board is, in a very conscious way, providing the conditions that teaching and learning require. It's the local board that helps the community understand that education is important, and that a challenging and intellectually rich education is important. They attract and sustain the superintendent. When it doesn't work, it's because they are unable to stay united behind that mission.
"But when a school board focuses mightily on its mission, of creating the conditions that teaching and learning require, it's a powerful thing that enables faculty to blossom, that enables a strong superintendent to do what only a superintendent can do. It's a great thing to see."
- former NYS Commissioner of Education Richard Mills
Posted on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 15:01
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Sequestration and Your Schools: Click here for Q&A from the National School Boards Association
Issues & School Fiscal Updates...ECASB 2013 Legislative Breakfast Report.
This is the contact information for State Senate and Assembly members representing ECASB member schools districts
School Boards Speak on Sequestration
Buffalo Board of Education resolution on sequestration
Projected Impact of Sequestration on Sweet Home Schools
This information will be presented to Congressman Brian Higgins office during the National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network in Washington, D.C.
Click here for ECASB letters to Federal Representatives regarding Sequestration
See below for Federal Representatives Responses to ECASB (Effective Dec. 5, 2012)
Congressman Brian Higgins
Also, see the Springville Griffith Institute's Nov. 14, 2012 Sequestration Resolution urging "Congress and the Administration to amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness."
ECASB Testimony to Education Reform Commission in Buffalo
ECASB members at the Governor's Education Reform Commission Public Hearing in Buffalo were Linda Hoffman (Erie 2 BOCES), Kathyann Lorka (East Aurora), Scott Johnson (Sweet Home) and Jane Burzynski (Exec. Director). All submitted written testimony, Jane spoke before the panel. Topics and excerpts:
P-16 Educational Leadership Consortium:
"Our request to you, as a Commission, is to be aware of how hard people are working for continual improvement to our educational system, and to be aware that continual improvement is unlikely without sufficient funding. To the end, we hope your work and recommendations can be aligned with those of the Mandate Relief Council. Our good intentions will come to naught without funding to support the technology, research, staffing and data needed for their implemantation."- Jane Burzynski (Executive Director)
"This is not a request to discontinue everything. Management should not be allowed to remove contract items just to get an agreement. All we ask is to level the playing field so that labor is not making money for just standing still. Relief from this one mandate would have such a significant effect on all school budgets. It will help us keep teachers and support staff instead of laying them off, it will allow us to maintain programs, instead of cutting them." - Scott Johnson (Sweet Home)
"The Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) requirements have been described as “the greatest unfunded mandate schools have ever seen.” The time, staffing, and processes required are an enormous lift for schools already working with reduced funding ... The massive amount of student testing as schools compile data and documentation also comes at a cost which must be absorbed by school districts. The State wants it, but the State does not have the money to pay for it ... We understand that the intention is to assess and improve learning, but the good intentions must be supported by funding ... the “side effects” of many of today’s mandates are threatening the existence of public education as we know it." - Kathyann Lorka (East Aurora)
Property Tax Cap Without Mandate Relief: "This is gonna kill us ..."
A property tax cap, without accompanying mandate relief, will be lethal to area school districts, Erie County School Board members were told at the 2011 ECASB School Finance Academy. "You've got a gun pointed right at you," warned Mike Ford, "This is gonna kill us." Sharing data from the Statewide School Finance Consortium, Mr. Ford, who is Superintendent of central New York's Phelps-Clifton Springs School District, spoke to more then 60 area school board members at the program entitled, "The Storm is Here."
He noted that Erie County school districts are not high wealth. "At tops, you are average," he said, referring to Amherst and Williamsville. When state aid to schools was reduced, he said, wealthy districts (Long Island area) lost less than 5% aid, but less wealthy districts lost as much as 28%. "The poorest districts got clobbered last year by gap elimination," he said. "Look where your region was, you got hit very hard by that gap elimination." Less wealthy districts suffer most because state aid funds a much greater percentage of their budgets. Because more money is lost, local taxes go even higher in poorer districts asthey try to make up the gap.