Front Page: Welcome to the Table

By Theresa Kelly Gegen

Welcome to the spring/summer issue of the IASB Journal, and welcome to the hundreds of board members who are opening their packets, sitting at the table, and serving their communities for the first time as a member of the board of education. It’s a challenging time for public education, and your willingness to serve in these times is admirable and critical.

“A fundamental goal of the People of the State is the educational development of all persons to the limits of their capacities,” according to the Illinois state Constitution. The role of the local board of education is to sit in trust for the community to make the best local decisions towards that fundamental goal.

On the way, you’re going to be faced with lots of important decisions, especially in these times of crisis and transition. School boards must maintain a clear vision of the district’s stated mission, vision, and goals and ascertain what results should look like. As you move into each successive stage of service to your community, you’ll discover every school board decision must be considered in light of data, precedent, policy, finances, and community expectations. As each decision approaches and before you take your seat at the table, look at the big picture, do your homework, and ask yourself, “What does our community want from this?”

In your many decisions, IASB is here to help. There are multitudes of resources for board work and leadership training. IASB hopes its share of that multitude is particularly helpful, because it is directed at and tailored especially for you, the Illinois school board member.

Perhaps this issue of the Illinois School Board Journal is your starting point. Each biennial new board member issue brings words of wisdom from a panel of experienced board members, this year featuring many members of the IASB Board of Directors. Please join me in thanking them for taking the time to respond with their thoughts on board service. This issue also features a piece from IASB Field Services Director Dee Molinare on getting started with parliamentary procedure and a commentary by attorneys Dana Fattore Crumley and Kendra Yoch on the necessity and importance of working with your board attorney.

By the time you read this, you may have already received a new board member welcome packet and taken advantage of IASB’s offerings for new board members. If not, let us know.

Use the New Board Member page on the IASB website
( to plan your journey, starting with the Roadmap to Success. There you will access the trainings (both state-mandated requirements and recommended training), webinars, publications, and upcoming events to transition you from successful candidate to effective board member. Also on that page, there is a form through which board members with questions can ask for support and resources needed for a successful journey.

Not coincidentally, all of these resources could provide a valuable refresher for experienced school board members, as well important information for newbies. Together you will build a new board team and determine the answers to the questions of “What does our community want from this?”
Theresa Kelly Gegen is Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal. Resources associated with this column can be accessed via the Journal’s resources link,