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ILLINOIS SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL


May/June 2014

Vanishing school boards: Why needed?
By Patrick Rice

Patrick Rice is IASB field services director for Egyptian, Illini, Shawnee and Wabash Valley divisions. This excerpt is used with Rice’s permission from his recently published book: Vanishing School Boards: Where school boards have gone, why we need them, and how we can bring them back.

School boards are needed for a variety of reasons.

Primarily, they are the best catalyst to ensure local control of education. In other words, school boards give the local community a voice concerning the aims of public education.

Specifically, school boards keep the public in public schools, have a positive impact on student achievement, function as trustees over district finances and serve as advocates for public schools.

As a democratic country we have valued citizen oversight to assist us in making decisions for the greater good rather than decisions made on Capitol Hill behind closed doors.

In short, school boards allow the community to stay connected to its schools,

School boards have a positive impact on student achievement. School boards ensure that districts are governed effectively and that those who oversee the day-to-day operations are held accountable for student achievement.

Although school boards are not responsible for day-to-day management of schools, their decisions and actions create the environments that enable district efforts to improve.

School boards serve as trustees over district resources. School boards ensure that taxpayer dollars are carefully and appropriately spent. Primarily, the school board approves the budget, which identifies the parameters of district spending and ensures that there is a clear alignment between the budget and district ends.

School boards are also advocates for public education, having been created for the sole purpose of representing the welfare of students.

In order for the United States to remain great, we must not forget about our democratic values. As a diverse country, we have cherished citizen oversight to promote the common good. School boards are a shining example of how men and women from the community come together on behalf of the community and to promote the common good.

If the role of the school board continues to diminish, many citizens will be disenfranchised concerning the aims of public education, ultimately leaving a system of the haves and have-nots.

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