What Does A School Board Do?

Elections, Parent & Family Engagement | 11/01/2019

Jessica Reynolds
National Digital Coordinator

You probably have a general understanding of the roles of President, Congress, state lawmakers, and your mayor. But how much do you know about the governing body that controls your public schools?

Check out these FAQs with information from XQ Institute's That's a School Board Thing to learn the basics of school boards, their responsibilities, and what you can do to take action:  

So, what does a school board do? 

School boards make decisions on everything from school safety to facilities maintenance to employee relations, with their key goal being to establish the policies and overall vision for their districts. Boards hire (or fire) the superintendent, determine budgets, create the school-year calendar, decide the openings and closings of schools, and evaluate student performance data. They can also approve textbooks and curriculum, set discipline policies, and add or cut school programs. 

Who sits on the board school? 

School board members can either be elected by voters or appointed by the mayor or local government leaders. Size varies by district, but most boards have between three and seven members. Most terms last four years and are unpaid. 

When do school boards meet?

School boards typically meet once or twice a month on a set weekday.  

What happens at a school board meeting? 

It usually opens with a statement from the superintendent or board president about any important updates or announcements. If board members are weighing policies, they may debate those topics and then vote. Sometimes there are opportunities for members of the public to speak or pose questions to the board. 

Can I attend my local school board meeting? 

Absolutely! Meetings are open to the public, and most districts post the meeting agenda on their websites in advance. Look up online when and where your local board meets by checking your school district's website, then set a reminder on your calendar. When you go, take notes on issues you have comments or questions on. At the end of the meeting, introduce yourself to the board members. Tell them why you're there and what issues you'd like discussed at future meetings. 

What else can I do to get involved?

You have the power to hold your school board accountable. Show up, speak up, and vote! If you care about your child's education and want to get more involved, sign up and we'll send you information on ways to be an effective advocate for your child and local schools. Find out when your district's next school board election is happening by visiting XQ's site and entering your address

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