Ohio’s school board members, one of the largest groups of elected officials in the state, are charged with one of the major responsibilities in government — to provide the best educational opportunities possible for the youth of Ohio.
Once a person has met the qualifications, been properly nominated, duly elected, and officially sworn in, his or her real job begins. No one can know the various pressures, politics, and satisfactions of such a position until he or she has had the experience of serving on a board of education.
A school board sets educational goals and establishes policy for the school system based upon state laws and community values. Perhaps the most important responsibility of a school board is to employ a superintendent and treasurer and hold them responsible for managing the schools in accordance with the school board’s policies.
Board members make decisions on a wide range of issues, such as hiring and evaluating a superintendent and treasurer; setting district policy; planning student services; goal-setting and long-range planning; adopting curriculum; establishing budgets; engaging parents; being good fiscal stewards; acting in the best interest of the school district and within the scope of their legal authority; and creating community relations programs. A board member should be a skilled decision-maker; however, decisions are only made by the board as a whole at a public meeting.
Another important part of the board’s work is its public relations role. School board members help build public support and understanding of public education, and lead the public in demanding quality education. The school board serves as a link between schools and the public.
The role and function of board members often are misinterpreted by the public, and in some cases, by board members themselves. The board is a policymaking body and members are the chief advisers to the superintendent on community attitudes. Board members do not manage the day-to-day operations of a school district; they see to it that the system is managed well by professionals.
Board members are not education professionals. They do not evaluate staff, other than the superintendent and treasurer, nor do they become involved in employment interviews, other than those of the superintendent, business manager, and treasurer. Board members may be consulted during the hiring process for other positions, such as assistant superintendent.
Board members are also not accountants nor state auditors. The Board employs a professional Treasurer, and professional financial staff with expertise in school financing, and undergoes annual financial audits to ensure fiscal responsibility for the district.