30 Extracts




The Art of School Boarding


Jim Burgett


[Education Communication Unlimited, 2013.

Book specifics.]





Summary Table of Contents



Boarding Basics


Why Does Anyone Want to Board?


The Foundational Principles of School Governance


Board Roles and Superintendent Roles


Boarding Code of Conduct


Know the Chain of Command


Learn the Art of Receiving and Responding to Complaints


Never Forget Who Comes First


Money Matters


Programs and Growth




School Boarding at its Best


Expert Advice


Taking Care of You


The Ride


* This book should be mandatory reading by every new mem­ber of every school board in America. They should read it before they seek election or accept appointment.


* Being a member of a board of education is one of the most important jobs that a person can hold, and it should be reserved for people who have the courage, the fortitude, and the de­sire to make a difference.


* (Being on a school board) is not an easy job, but it’s a very important one. The lives of every kid in this country, our kids, are at stake. And so is the present and future fabric of our na­tion.


* Who else should read its pages? Current board members, both as a reminder of the pledge they have made and to provide a unifying language, shared process, and commonly held goal that they and their new followers can seek together.


* I’m writing this book because it needs to be written. It is in­tended to serve as a guide, a primer, a companion, a training manual, a motivational tool, and a down-to-earth conversation starter about a job that is always, for those involved, a life-chang­ing event.


* “School Boarding” is a verb that captures movement and change. The “Art of School Boarding” is the process that pro­pels and steers that change.


* I think school boards in general are doing a superb job, de­spite the fact that much of that is done “by the seat of their pants.” And much of that is because too many of the members just don’t know any better. And some don’t care.


* You see, some folks run for the school board without under­standing both its importance and its complexity. Some, once elected, simply don’t get it. And some lose their vigor and vision. So maybe a straightforward, common sense, jargon-free book like this can help all of the board members become essen­tial components of a crucial process for helping kids. Perhaps it can provide a shared starting point for boards of education work­ing as cohesive teams, knowing their purpose, rolling up their collective sleeves, and never losing focus while making a true difference. Helping school boards “board” in a positive, effective, and meaningful manner, then, is the goal of this book, the very reason for its existence.


* This book contains the kind of information that board mem­bers, particularly beginners or others considering joining, should know, like being a member of a board of education is an act of noble and selfless public service.


* Being a member of a board of education takes time. If done right, it is a time-consuming task.


* There are no board of education members who don’t face diffi­cult decisions, votes, or issues. Nor any who haven’t had to de­fend his or her decisions many times. This is a job that often includes some degree of conflict.


* (Being on a school board) can be fun and reward­ing. It is always life changing. But it can also be taxing and frus­trating. One thing for certain, it is not a job to be entered into lightly.


* This is not a textbook. It has no footnotes, nor many statis­tics. It comes from me (who sat through thousands of hours of school board meetings), mentors, and colleagues with a cen­tury-plus of school board experience… The format is casual, like a conversation.


* School boarding isn’t a science—I taught science. Yes, there are some rules, procedures, and recommended guidelines. What makes it an art (as in The Art of School Boarding) is that at the core what we most need to share is thoughtfulness, tact, and the process (really the art) of building relationships.


* School board members mold, direct, and outline the educational opportunities of children and adults. Would it be too theatrical to say that they hold the future of mankind in the palm of their hand? Well, if mankind is composed of one person at a time, one new opportunity, one creative philosophy permitting another, then maybe, just maybe, theatricality bor­ders on reality. You have an opportunity to change the world.


* From the minute you are elected or appointed a school board member you hold a position of public authority. Your vote always counts. You become responsible for huge sums of money, the steward­ship of property, and the employment and welfare of many hu­man beings. Essentially, you hold the personal livelihood of people in the power of your vote. And not only the individual, but his/her family.


* Can it be rewarding to be a school board member? You bet. Consider the rewards—permanent ones, each growing with every kid from day one in kindergarten to gradua­tion day from high school, and spin-offs all the days that follow.


* The Pros (of school boarding) are serving mankind, volunteering for the good of soci­ety, helping young people have a chance for success, mak­ing sure opportunities are fair and appropriate, and being account­able to those who elected you by being diligent in your duties and demonstrating professional and respectable behavior.


* The school board is the “corporate” entity charged by law with the task of governing a legally defined school district.


* School boards write and approve district policies that clearly define delegation. In fact, almost every aspect of a school board’s authority should be contained in a well-crafted set of policies. The board … has the ulti­mate responsibility for every aspect of school governance, but those responsibilities need to be easily understood and well crafted.


* The board of education is the engine that runs the system. The engine transforms power into action; thus, the superin­tendent is like the transmission, taking the energy and converting it into productive motion.


* The superintendent is hired to do the following: understand, interpret, refine, and implement the vision, mission, goals and policy as set forth by the board of education. That’s one power­ful and jam-packed expectation.


* The superintendent’s role is … to take the decisions made by the school board and to implement them, in accordance with both their request, existing policy, and in compliance with legal and ethical restrictions.


* Knowing where you stand in the flow also helps you direct yourself to the right place. Your place in every organizational chart (as a school board member) is at the top, at least within the district. Some charts may put state government or state leaders over you, but within the district you are generally considered the last stop, the head hon­cho, the buck stopper. And next to you, down the scale only one notch or position, is the person you hired and hold responsi­ble, the superintendent.


* “Who comes first?” The answer is always “the kids.” Call them students, children, young adults, pre-adolescents, adolescents, infants, or whatever, all of these are, in my thinking, “the kids.” If you program your thinking in this direction, then everything, absolutely everything, you do will in some way affect the kids and their opportunity to learn.


* I recommend, without any hesitation, that school board members ask the tough questions.


* …Everything in this chapter (about school finances) defines the word “art” in the title of this book. The reason is simple: managing and project­ing school finances is not, and never will be, a science. Certainly the cash in, cash out accounting procedures are pure science and legally controlled, but no district will ever know for sure the future of the financial variables.


* I’m suggesting that newly elected school board members get the handbook, pol­icy book, or board manual and find the organizational chart so they can memorize it. This might be the very first thing you do after winning the election.


* I can’t tell you how many times I have told teachers over the years, “Never discipline kids, just behaviors.”


* I have often pictured a board of education as a jigsaw puz­zle with eight pieces. Seven are the individual pieces that fit together, each piece representing one of the (board members). The eighth makes up the border of the puzzle. All the inside pieces fit in­side the border. The border is the superintendent. He/she holds everything together and provides the boundaries, protection, and (the) shape of the puzzle. When the board is cohesive and work­ing well, all the inside pieces fit nicely together with no binding (or) straining, clearly displaying a comprehensive “picture” of the district.