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Connecting with the Community

The Illinois Association of School Boards has continually focused its board development efforts on helping school board members understand the importance of good governance.

IASB’s Foundational Principles of Effective Governance note that the primary task of the school board is to continually define, articulate, and redefine district ends to answer the recurring question: “Who gets what benefits for how much?” In order to define those ends and clarify the district’s vision, mission, and goals, the school board needs to connect with its community around the aspirations that people have for their local schools.

While many school districts do very good work public relations work, Community Engagement involves much more than that. It requires an ongoing, two-way conversation that enables the school board to hear and understand the community’s educational aspirations and desires, to serve effectively as an advocate for district improvement, and to accurately inform the community of the district’s performance.

In 2013, IASB extensively researched and published a report, “Connecting with the Community: The Purpose and Process of Community Engagement as Part of Effective School Board Governance.” This document was updated in 2018 with additional resources and more information on effective Community engagement efforts.

The purpose of “Connecting with the Community” is to help school boards and superintendents understand what community engagement is, why it is critical, what they can expect to accomplish, and how to evaluate the results.

To learn more about developing Community Engagement in your school district, read the complete report via the link below, or access the Executive Summary for an overview. The latter highlights the full report in 10 parts:

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • What is Community Engagement?
  • The ‘Whys’ of Community Engagement
  • The ‘ Hows’ of Community Engagement
  • Basic Principles of Community Engagement
  • Best Practices, Strategies, and Tactics
  • An Evaluation Process for Community Engagement
  • Implementing a Community Engagement Process: One Approach
  • References

Connecting with the Community Full Report (PDF)

Connecting with the Community Executive Summary (PDF)

Connecting with the Community Full Report (digital version)

Connecting with the Community Executive Summary (digital version)

IASB offers Community Engagement sessions at the Joint Annual Conference, as well as in-district workshops on the purpose and process of Community Engagement. These resources are available through My Account.


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