The $36K Answer
“Exactly what do you do, Stephanie?”
It was a question spawned from a moment of frustration felt by a constituent who perceived my role in the school district as one of a “Junior Superintendent” and was wanting me to exercise my “authority” in a matter which lies outside the scope of the board’s work.
“School board members have an extraordinary amount of responsibility and very little authority,” is what I was told at the very first Florida School Board Association conference I attended, and is the best summary I’ve heard thus far in my term to describe the job.
When explaining the roles within the district, I like to compare it to the federal government. The Superintendent is the President. The School Board is the House/Senate and, on rare occasion, may serve in a quasi-judiciary capacity.
The Superintendent is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district, including appointing and dismissing personnel. The prerogatives of individual school board members are extremely limited in those administrative actions. The law indicates the Board must approve recommendations presented by the Superintendent unless the legality of the recommendation is being questioned.
The two major responsibilities of the Board are governing through policy (legislation) and creating a budget that aligns resources to support the district’s academic achievement and student service objectives. These are areas, in my humble opinion, that appear to have been neglected in the past and rank high on my list of goals in areas I hope to see our board focus on, as they are proven vehicles for the Board to effectuate positive change within the district.
Since taking my oath of office, I’m happy to report to my constituents that the School Board has began conducting monthly budget workshops before the regular business meetings on the first meeting of the month AND we’ll be voting on whether we want to a contract with a company that specializes in helping school districts update and maintain their district policies on Tuesday, May 12.
I hope this helps clarify a School Board Member’s roles and responsibilities within the district and has provided you with a brief update of what I’m doing, within the scope of my responsibility and authority, to serve you as your District 4 School Board Member. Thank you for the privilege.