Excellence starts in the voting booth

June 30, 2008|By DONNA BRIGHTMAN

As the saying goes, excellence in the classroom begins with excellence in the boardroom.

For the past 13 months of service on the board, I have consistently heard the school system compared to a large corporation: The Board of Education is the "Board of Directors" and the Superintendent is the "CEO."

I couldn't disagree more.

The superintendent is hired, by the Board of Education, to be the professional education leader. The Board of Education is composed of citizens, elected by citizens, to keep an eye on the public's investment.

By law, our responsibility, as members of the board, is to act as a check and balance on the administration, so that the best interests of the children and the taxpayers are met.


If we all do our jobs, the taxpayers get their money's worth, and student achievement improves. It's all a part of good governance and excellence in the boardroom.

Good governance by the Board of Education also includes these responsibilities:

· Making policy,

· Hiring and evaluating the superintendent,

· Advocating for all children,

· Planning, setting goals and appraising education programs,

· Approving and adopting the annual budget,

· Adhering to the State Board of Education policy,

· Employing a chief negotiator and ratifying all collective bargaining contracts.

· Establishing curriculum guides and courses of study,

· Developing a comprehensive Master Plan,

· Developing a Capital Improvement Master Plan,

· Performing a quasi-judicial role for staff and student appeals,

· Approving the annual school calendar,

· Establishing school attendance zones,

· Communicating with various stakeholders and

· Serving on standing committees and ad hoc committees.

As an institution, public education must be held to the highest of standards. When board members remain independent and critical thinkers, they do the job for which they were elected.

So the next time you hear someone compare public education to a corporate model, ask yourself: "Do I want public education to walk hand in hand with an Enron or a Tyco?"

If your answer is "no," then let's work together to make public education in Washington County the bastion of democracy it was intended to be.

As they say, excellence in the boardroom begins with excellence in the voting booth.

Donna Brightman
Vice President
Washington County Board of Education

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