Traits of Effective School Board Members
What should Iowans be looking for in a school board member as the school election approaches each September? While there is no "ideal" board member, the Iowa Association of School Boards suggests these basic characteristics shared by effective school board members.
- They focus their efforts on serving all children. They make sure every decision or action of the board considers the best interests of all the students they serve. They understand that board members are entrusted by all the parents in the community and that no child is more important than another. Their first focus is on student achievement no matter what other issues arise.
- They understand the board’s roles and responsibilities. They are committed to ensuring that a long-term vision is established for the school system and to being accountable to their community. They strive to be knowledgeable about district policies and programs. They have a strong grasp of national trends, current issues and efforts in the district and can explain them to the public.
- They work well as members of a team. They understand that the board, rather than individuals on the board, establishes the policies and makes the decisions which provide direction for the school district. They work with staff, families and other agencies and businesses to build schools which encourage the best from all students. They work to improve schools by building public understanding, support and participation.
- They act with professionalism and integrity. They understand that the way board members act as individuals and as a body impacts the climate of the school district. They are respectful, listening carefully to colleagues, staff, parents and the public. They are honest and open, acting with fairness and consistency so that long-term changes can be accomplished. They respect their fellow board members’ right to hold differing views. They are committed to the democratic process, accept the will of the majority and support the decisions of the board.
- They commit the time and energy required to be effective. They are willing to commit their time to public service, including many hours at meetings, taking phone calls, listening to constituents, visiting schools and learning about societal and educational trends. They take part in workshops and seminars to continually expand their ability to serve effectively.