11 November, 2011 (All day)
Serving on the School Board is a privilege and an honor. I believe it would be beneficial to share a few things about School Board governance that may affect the way the community interacts with the Board and the Administration.
Board and Administration
The School Board is responsible for setting policies, overseeing the funding, and setting the general direction of the schools in our district. The Board is made up of five Board Members from each of the five voting areas of our district. The Board elects a Board President and Vice-president to direct the meetings and provide appropriate signatures as necessary. It is important to note that the Board has authority to do its business while in an advertised meeting but individual Board Members have no individual authority outside those meetings. They can gather feedback from constituents, research items to be discussed, and represent the Board on other committees or events. But none of us have any authority other than when we are together in an advertised Board meeting with at least a quorum of members present. Occasionally, in matters of real estate offers or personnel issues, the Board has the authority to call a “closed” session where those matters are discussed in a recorded private meeting. However, no votes or decisions can occur in a closed session.
In our district, we are fortunate to also have a Student Board Member serve on our Board. The Student Board Member is a Morgan High School student who has gone through a selection process including having an interview with Board Members to be chosen to serve on the Board. The Student Board Member participates in all open discussions but does not have a vote. This is a great opportunity for a student to participate and learn. Board Members also benefit from hearing direct feedback from a student of one of our schools.
The Board has the direct oversight of two district employees, the Superintendent and the Business Administrator. All other district employees are under a hierarchy structure that reports to one of those positions. Employees of each of the four schools in our district report to a Principal of that school. The Principal oversees all aspects of education at their school.
The Superintendent keeps the Board aware of all critical issues that occur in the district. In emergency situations he contacts the Board immediately. Otherwise, he sends a detailed update to each Board Member of situations, good and bad, which occurred in the district each week. While the Board is responsible for ensuring appropriate policies and personnel to manage day-to-day operations, they should not be involved in the actual day-to-day operations of the district.
The Board has hired competent professionals and allows them to do their jobs while keeping the appropriate measures in place to monitor what is happening.
How to interact
with the school
As tax-paying, voting constituents of this district, we each have a way to have our voice heard on matters of tax, funding, direction, and overall quality of the public education in our district. For those matters, the constituent should contact the Board Member in their area. It is important to note that while the Board Members represent the voice of the constituents of their area in bringing matters to the attention of the entire Board, once in the Board meeting, they represent the district as a whole.
If a parent has an issue with an individual circumstance that has occurred or is occurring, they should work first with the Teacher. If not resolved, they should talk to the Principal at that school. If still not resolved they can talk with the Superintendent. If still not resolved, the parent can bring the matter to the attention of the School Board. Bringing individual circumstances directly to someone higher in the chain circumvents the proper chain of command and does not help the situation come to a proper resolution. Likewise, a school employee should work through the same chain of command for proper resolution of an employment situation.
As in all areas of interpersonal communication, discussing any situation in a calm tone and with all the facts is the best way to get to a resolution. This is hard to do when our children are involved due to our own love, emotion, and protective instinct. Too often we jump to an early conclusion based on half the facts. But we must try to realize that there is another side to every situation. Getting all the facts is the most important. Without all the facts, people have a tendency to be angry and unrelenting. With the facts, a proper resolution can be achieved.
Positive feedback always helps to make any organization better. Don’t hold back on telling someone about what they’ve done well for your child.
I believe we have the best overall set of educators that can be found anywhere in the State. Every school employee is an educator in their own way whether they are in the classroom, an office, a school bus, the cafeteria, or maintaining one of those areas. All have inherent qualities of love and concern for the kids. They work tirelessly for the benefit of the student. We have a history of great test scores and a record of continuous growth in those test scores. We have a record of providing top education for a lower price than most districts in the state. We are frugal, yet strategic in planning for future needs.
There are occasional problems, but far fewer than other institutions of the district’s size. We are strict and deliberate in our hiring practices to ensure that we continue to hire the best.
I join many other people in this community who greatly appreciate the public school system, especially the public school system in Morgan County. And most of all, I greatly appreciate the entire staff of the
Morgan County School District. I credit many years of past Boards and past Administrators who have helped make the district what it is today. I especially credit all the current employees for what they do.
I also join many other people in the community who want to strive to make our district even better. I invite more community participation in helping this to happen. I’m impressed with the willingness of volunteers that work to make good things happen. Parents are critical to the success of their child’s education. We need more parental involvement with their children.
I’m convinced, that with the best students, the best parents, and the best educators, good things will continue to happen in this valley.