Thursday, January 17, 2013

The roles of board of education members and the superintendent

Last week we reviewed the election, selection, and compensation of Oconee County Board of Education (BOE) members.  We learned that each BOE member is elected countywide, but must declare a specific post, one through five, when running for election.  We also learned that the individual who runs for Post 1 is elected as the chairman of the BOE, and that the vice chairman and legislative liaison are determined by the board at the first regular session in January.  Finally, we reviewed the potential compensation of each board member, which is $150 per month, and that our current board of education has declined to be compensated this year. 

This week, we will examine the role of board of education members and that of the superintendent. 

Board Policy BBD states “The Board of Oconee County believes that the legislation of policies is the most important function of a school board and that the execution of the policies should be the function of the Superintendent.” Simply stated, this means that it is the job of the BOE to set policy and the job of the superintendent to carry out those policies.  More specifically, the superintendent of Oconee County Schools, and all school system superintendents for that matter, oversees the day-to-day operations of the school system while the board of education assists in setting the priorities and goals of the system through the development of policy and the passing of a budget that supports those goals and priorities each year. 

While constant communication occurs between the superintendent and the BOE, monthly meetings are also held in order to communicate publicly the successes and challenges of the school system, to report on the budget, and to make personnel and other recommendations for board consideration.  Board Policy BCAB states that regular business meetings will be held “on the second Monday of each calendar month at 5:00 pm.  It goes on to delineate that “the order of business shall be consistent with Roberts Rules of Order with the exception that all measures requiring a vote by the Board shall be passed by a simple majority of Board members present. 

Within these monthly meetings, the board may ask questions on proposals or other presented items, but can only vote on recommendations made by the superintendent.  For example, each meeting typically will have personnel recommendations that the superintendent presents for BOE approval.  If an employee is hired or dismissed, such action must be recommended by the superintendent and then voted on by the BOE.  No individual board member has the ability to set policy or to select personnel.  The BOE team, functioning as an elected governing body, votes either for or against the recommendations made by the superintendent, and the simple majority dictates the approval or denial of those recommendations.  This process ensures that the day-to- day operations remain the role of district leaders and that the board of education, not as individuals but rather as a governing team, makes the final determinations on those recommendations.

What questions do you have about this process?  Please share your thoughts with me at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.

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