How Much Can A School Board Member Really Do?

I recently ran into a former school board member. After a couple minutes, the conversation turned to my run for the school board. He was very familiar with my efforts over the years to change the business as usual at Beaumont Unified. He warned me that once I see the world from the "inside", things will be a lot different. He told me that not everyone realizes how much control the state has and there is little a board member can really do. He also told me that even if I was passionate about something, nothing would be done if I’m not able to convince two other board members to support my idea.

I know I would need to convince two other board members to put in place some of the changes I feel are important. I don’t believe convincing two open minded people to put the interests of our kids first is an impossible task. I told him I knew there was a lot I didn't know about being a school board trustee but I had to run because I realized I have done all I can from the "outside".

We have conceded most of our local control in our schools to the state and federal governments. When we depend on state and federal money to run our schools, we are held hostage by elected officials who are more concerned about keeping the privileges and lifestyle they have grown accustomed to than being responsible for our children's future. We are bound by the strings attached to the money.

I don't believe that a school board member should accept this and stop working for the ideas they felt were important. Ideas they claimed to be passionate about when they asked us to trust them with our vote. I believe there are many things a school board can, and should, do that are not restricted by the state or federal government mandates.

I’ve written about many things I believe a responsible board member could do that are not restricted by mandates. Go to www.OurFocusOurKids.com and use the search feature to learn why I will be passionate and focus on the following issues

If a school board member wanted to focus on parent involvement, here are some things they can do that are not restricted by mandates: 

  • Reinstate the time allowed for public comment during school board meetings to five minutes.
  • Schedule board meetings to be held at a more convenient time for families with small children and provide child care.
  • Schedule one regular board meeting a month to coincide with district committee meetings and provide child care to make it easier for parents to get involved.
  • Employ technology to bring the district’s communication network into the 21st century by offering automated email, RSS feeds, and text messaging. 

If a school board member wanted to focus on school choice, here are some things they can do that are not restricted by mandates: 

  • Convert Palm Elementary into a specialized school for science and technology. Open it to all students in the district with existing Palm families having priority and make parent involvement a requirement.
  • Work with teachers to establish a dependent charter school that employs district teachers, cedes more control to parents and makes parent involvement a requirement.
  • Reinstate the GATE program to encourage parents to keep their gifted students in the district, retaining ADA now leaving the district. This would provide families an alternative choice to taking their kids, and their high test scores, to neighboring school districts. 

If a school board member wanted to focus on responsible management of the resources (taxes) we’ve already committed to, here are some things they can do that are not restricted by mandates: 

  • Employ technology to provide more transparency to the district’s business operations.
  • Adopt a Zero-Based budgeting process requiring each department to prioritize and justify every budget expense.
  • Authorize Measure Z Funds to update the High School technology department’s computers.
  • Authorize Measure Z funds to address the traffic safety issues around pick-up and drop-off areas at all schools.