Board of Education

-- WHAT IS --

The Board of Education

What is a School Board?

School boards are sometimes also called Boards of Education.  They’re an elected group of community members who represent the people in their community within the school district.  Board members receive no pay for their service and typically serve three year terms. 

No one person or group of persons can act in the name of the Board. Because the Board is a governmental body, it can take action only by a majority vote at a legally called meeting. A board member is in an official capacity only during an official board meeting.

What does a BOE do?

 They are the overseers of the district who:

  • Hire the Superintendent.
  • Conduct performance evaluations of the Superintendent to continuously set standards of improvement.
  • Establish the district’s goals and evaluate outcomes.
  • Adopt and evaluate district policies, including Code of Conduct and Attendance policies.
  • Develop and submit an annual proposed budget for annual public approval/vote.
  • Vote on the Superintendent’s recommendations on personnel matters and contracts.
  • All School Boards are tasked with adhering to applicable federal and state laws.

What Are Common Traits of Good School Boards?

  • Although school boards are structured differently, good boards share common traits.
  • They represent diverse interests within the community, such as parents, business leaders, nonprofit workers, health care workers, and educators.
  • This diverse set of perspectives allows for a more comprehensive ability to approach issues and concerns within the schools and the community.
  • They are good communicators. The members of these school boards collaborate with each other, the superintendent, families, other citizens and other schools in the community.
  • The board interacts with citizens. The board members listen to their community members’ concerns and answer their questions.

Why do we have BOE’s?

Public schools are public entities funded by public taxpayer dollars. As such, public schools must have some mechanism of accountability to the community they serve. That mechanism at the most local level is the Board of Education. Depending on where you live in New York State, your Board of Education may be comprised of people who live within your town or zip code; in more remote or less dense districts, your school district may span several zip codes and towns. New York City presents an entirely different situation; the members of the NYC Board are appointed by the Mayor and by each of the five NYC borough presidents.

How do parents get in touch with school boards?

  • School board meetings are open to the public. These meetings are also often recorded and aired on local stations. Additional meetings, like committee meetings, are open to the public as well.
  • Boards may have different rules for how, but citizens are able to address the board at these meetings.
  • The contact information of board members is often available to the public.
  • Community members can vote in their local elections. (appointed by the Mayor)

What happens during a school board meeting?

First, remember that the board members work for you!

Usually once or twice a month, a school district holds a board meeting that’s open to the public.  Board meetings are held in public, but are not public meetings.  They are simply an opportunity for the community to observe board members discuss, vote, make recommendations, and/or amend district policy.  To adopt a new policy, the school board must host a public meeting, take a formal vote during the meeting, and a majority of the board members must vote for adopting the policy.

Copies of the meeting agenda are available to the public either at or before each meeting.

  • Who may speak at a meeting?
  • What is the meeting order?
  • What topics can I ask or comment about?
  • Will the school board answer me right away?

Anyone may speak at board meetings!

If you are either uncomfortable or unable to attend a meeting, he board also accepts written testimony, delivered to the superintendent’s office. Communications addressed to the board are distributed to all board members and listed in the board’s reading file.
Boards are allowed to establish reasonable restrictions on the time, so no one person dominates the meeting. There is no required format for public comment; some boards have one public-comment period in the middle of the meeting, some have two public-comment sessions during a board meeting.

 A typical business meeting is divided into the following parts:
 
  • Executive Session (if needed)
  • Meeting Opening/Call to Order
  • Presentations and/or Recognitions
  • Public Comments for Agenda Items Only
  • Consent Agenda
  • Old Business Non-Voting
  • Old Business Voting
  • New Business Non-Voting
  • New Business Voting
    • Personnel
    • Curriculum
    • Finance
    • Pupil Personnel
    • Superintendent
  • Speculation Reports/Announcements from the Superintendent
  • Public Comments
  • Important Dates
  • Executive Session (if needed)
  • Adjournment

Due to confidentiality concerns, the Board does not permit speakers to raise issues concerning a specific student or a specific personnel matter. Your testimony is most effective when addressed to specific agenda items or matters of general concern. District staff can usually address other information, questions, or problems.

If you have a specific issue regarding a specific teacher, it is best to raise the issue in a confidential communication following the “Chain of Command,” first trying to resolve the issue with the teacher, if possible, and then bringing it to the attention of the building principal, and so on.

If the question can be answered immediately, it will be. However, most issues before the board are too complex to be resolved at the first hearing. When matters of broad public concern are involved, the board needs sufficient time to study all aspects and listen to the ideas of others. Action will occur as promptly as careful consideration allows.  Although school boards are under NO obligation to respond to public comments, it certainly is good practice to do so.

What happens during a school board meeting?

First, remember that the board members work for you!

Usually once or twice a month, a school district holds a board meeting that’s open to the public.  Board meetings are held in public, but are not public meetings. Members of the community have an opportunity to observe board members discuss, vote, make recommendations, and/or amend district policy.  To adopt a new policy, the school board must host a public meeting, take a formal vote during the meeting, and a majority of the board members must vote for adopting the policy. Copies of the meeting agenda are available to the public either at or before each meeting.

Anyone may speak at board meetings!

If you are either uncomfortable or unable to attend a meeting, he board also accepts written testimony, delivered to the superintendent’s office. Communications addressed to the board are distributed to all board members and listed in the board’s reading file.
Boards are allowed to establish reasonable restrictions on the time, so no one person dominates the meeting. There is no required format for public comment; some boards have one public-comment period in the middle of the meeting, some have two public-comment sessions during a board meeting.

 A typical business meeting is divided into the following parts:
 
  • Executive Session (if needed)
  • Meeting Opening/Call to Order
  • Presentations and/or Recognitions
  • Public Comments for Agenda Items Only
  • Consent Agenda
  • Old Business Non-Voting
  • Old Business Voting
  • New Business Non-Voting
  • New Business Voting
    • Personnel
    • Curriculum
    • Finance
    • Pupil Personnel
    • Superintendent
  • Speculation Reports/Announcements from the Superintendent
  • Public Comments
  • Important Dates
  • Executive Session (if needed)
  • Adjournment

Due to confidentiality concerns, the Board does not permit speakers to raise issues concerning a specific student or a specific personnel matter. Your testimony is most effective when addressed to specific agenda items or matters of general concern. District staff can usually address other information, questions, or problems.

If the question can be answered immediately, it will be. However, most issues before the board are too complex to be resolved at the first hearing. When matters of broad public concern are involved, the board needs sufficient time to study all aspects and listen to the ideas of others. Action will occur as promptly as careful consideration allows.

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