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Santa Clara County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Smart Voter

What makes an effective School Board.

By Randy Scofield

Candidate for Board Member; Cambrian School District

This information is provided by the candidate
What are the characteristics and performance indicators that across the nation set effective school boards apart.
When asked what a local School Board does, many folks struggle to answer. They might offer that they oversee the local school or the funds that schools get. Though the role of a School Board Trustee is part of one of the oldest forms of democracy, many of the areas that school boards focus on are often not seen directly. They have several important basic roles, they hire the Superintendent that serves as the CEO of the district, they set the vision and goals of the district, and they set and approve the budget that aligns to that vision and set of goals. With the Superintendent, they form the governance team that puts into place the policies and processes by which the other areas of the district use to function and develop.
  • How does the school board make decisions? Do the members function as predictable, single-issue advocates, or do they approach each decision with an open mind? Do they seem to make strategic choices for the well-being of the district? Strong decision-making requires analysis, the balancing of needs and concerns, and the ability to see the long-term implications of an action.
  • How's the team spirit? Does the board exhibit a healthy group dynamic, or is it a parade of egos marching single-file? Do members show respect and trust for each other, and for the operating rules of the board?
  • Is the board's authority well defined? The classic challenges of management don't skip over your board of education. There's a delicate balance between the board's act of choosing a strong chief executive (the superintendent) and letting him or her lead the way and the board's tendency to get involved with many levels of decision-making.
  • Does the board understand the community? One of the most difficult parts of school governance is creating a strong relationship with the public. An effective board knows and respects its community, and encourages the community's trust in its school system.

When you take a look at the Cambrian School Board you find the above used to be the cornerstones on which they operated. We need to return that focus to our district.

What should I look for in a school board candidate?

First of all, you should think about the issues that are important to you in your school district. Are you concerned about class size reduction, student transportation, textbook adoption, funding for extracurricular activities, new curriculum standards and/or construction of new school facilities? What's your hot button? You'll want to find out where the candidates stand on issues that are important to you. You might also look for the following qualities:

  • The ability to work well with a team and support group decisions, along with an understanding that the board sets a climate for the entire district
  • A desire to work toward a stronger relationship between the district and the public it serves
  • A keen eye toward serving the needs of all students, regardless of their abilities and backgrounds
  • A professional, poised demeanor and respectful, respectable behavior
  • Respect for diverse points of view
  • Commitment to the time and energy required each week for meetings, phone calls, conversations, visits to schools, and professional development seminars and workshops
  • Knowledge about district policies, guidelines, needs, challenges and strengths At the heart of it all, members of a district's board of education must believe, unequivocally, in the value of public education. They must be dedicated to serving and teaching all children. They must believe in the democratic process and understand that their role is to act strategically, in line with the interests of the entire school community.

As you take the opportunity to evaluate and select your choice to serve you as your school board member, please consider the thoughts above. I have worked hard to lead and create teams as a community volunteer, leader, and school board member using the attributes listed above. It would be my honor to to serve our community as your representitive on the Cambrian School Board.

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ca/scl Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 11, 2010 14:51
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