Other members on the panel say the role of school board members is policy making and oversight, not actual hands-on administration of the system.
The Cedartown Standard, in an effort to determine what is the proper role of school board members, has acquired a copy of the handbook from the Georgia School Board Association titled, “What School Board Members Must Know.”
The following is an excerpt from the handbook:
THE BOARD’S ROLE
A board of education is mainly a legislative or policy-making body. A board’s primary functions are executive, quasi-judicial, goal-setting, policy-making and monitoring or evaluating. A board should have strong, workable policies to do the job it was elected to do. After the board has adopted a policy, it must look to its superintendent and staff to implement and enforce the policy through administrative procedures or regulations. In addition to its legislative function, the school board:
-Sits as schools court and adjudicates controversies arising from school operations.
-Hires and assigns all employees upon the recommendation of the superintendent.
-Has the power to dismiss and suspend employees.
-Approves a local budget each year and submits it to the State Board of Education.
-Levies the local educational millage rate.
-Is vested with the title, care, and custody of all school property with the power to purchase, construct, lease, repair or dispose of all school property.
-Approves all contracts binding on the local school system.
-Makes rules and regulations required to govern the school system.
-Adopts a plan for the assignment of pupils; establishes, reorganizes and consolidates or closes schools and determines which grades are to be taught at each school.
-Sets the bond of the superintendent; requires principals handling school lunch money and all other employees handling money to be bonded.
-Has the power to suspend students in disciplinary matters
-Evaluates the performance of the superintendent.
Board members should not, however, attempt to become involved in the administration of the schools and should carefully refrain from attempting to direct or supervise employees. Such matters are the responsibility of the superintendent.
A member of a board of education is a public officer, but the member has no power or authority individually. The law vests the power in the board and not in the members. These powers must be exercised by the board in a regular or special meeting with all action duly recorded in its minutes.
Once an individual has met the qualifications, been duly selected and officially sworn in, the real job begins. One cannot know the various pressures, politics, and satisfactions of such a position until one has had the experience of serving on a board of education.
These guidelines will smooth the way to successful service:
-Vote at all times in the best interests of the students of the school district, remembering that public opinion is only one factor in decision-making.
-A board member has no authority outside the board meeting.
-No one, unless authorized, should speak on behalf of the board.
-Do not interfere in the appropriate administrative decisions and functions of the superintendent and staff.
-Become well acquainted with school board policies.
-Stay flexible. There are times when changes must be made, when tradition cannot be honored and when pressure must be ignored.
-Observe the rules of confidentiality in decisions concerning personnel, land acquisitions, and negotiations.
-Ask for the facts of an issue, but be reasonable in demands on staff time.
-Be a good listener at board meetings and in the public without committing the board of the administration.
-Represent the school system well through proper behavior and attitude.
-Have a sense of humor.
-Know how to sift through rumors and uninformed opinions to get the true picture.
-Support board decisions once they are made.
-Refer all complaints through proper channels and use the school board as the court of last resort.
-Do not make commitments to school patrons before hearing both sides of an issue in a board meeting.