We continue to find ourselves in unprecedented times. As school board members, school administrators, educators, students, and parents, we are facing situations and decisions that none of us have ever had to face. It is times like these that organizations call on their performing leadership teams and the importance of an effective governing board is highlighted.
This is an election year. The Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board will have three (3) seats up for election. My seat, board Vice President Cami Garcia and board member Christ Rizzi’s positions are all coming to an end this year.
A textbook definition of a school board member’s responsibility is to set the vision and goals for the district, adopt policies that give the district direction to set priorities to achieve those goals, hire and evaluate the superintendent and adopt and oversee the annual budget. In my opinion - it is important how a board member accomplishes these tasks. Below are some important things I have learned throughout my service that helped me be a more effective board member.
- We live in a small community. Compartmentalizing relationships becomes of the utmost importance. While a board member may understand this, the parent/friend who needs a problem solved may not understand the distinction. It is hard not to “make a phone call” and try and solve the problem for the parent/friend because that’s why one wants to be a board member - to help. However, helping in this way undermines the administration of the district and the chain of command that exists.
- Understand that your actions are a reflection of the entire district. While you may not agree with an administrator’s decision, you are a board member, not a district administrator.
- You can only act as a “board”. An individual board member has no authority. While individuals employed by the district and community members may perceive you have “influence” or “sway”, in reality, it is minor.
- It is important to be prepared, work cohesively and respectfully. You will not always agree with your fellow board members, but it is imperative to be respectful of not only each other but of everyone.
We have many members of our community that understand these tenants and have professional expertise, talents, and experiences that our school district can benefit from. Social responsibility is important (beyond social distancing) and can be accomplished by contributing to your local community. This is a responsibility as much as it is an opportunity to make a positive impact on your community. Consider this a call to leadership. Our schools need you, our educators need you and most importantly our students need you to advocate for them. You can click here to learn more about running for the AJUSD Governing Board.