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HEALTHY SCHOOL BOARDS

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HEALTHY SCHOOL BOARDS
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I am convinced that one of the most important parts of a good school is a healthy local school board. When local school boards are comprised of the right type of board members, the right things happen, and vice versa. It has been said that"the right time to fire a person is when you don't hire him". The same is true of board members. Do we have members on our local boards that have been"forced" to serve because nobody else will?


Do we accept any person who is willing? It is important that the local church leadership and the local school leadership be aligned for common mission. Has your church nominating committee or board given thought to the kind of people you need on the school board?

Let me suggest some characteristics of the "Ideal" local school board member for consideration:

• Is God-oriented – life and sense of purpose focused more on God than on personal achievements, family, or a mission or program

• Is motivated by faith in the supernatural work of God – a board-sized faith

• Is a person of prayer

• Is able to be decisive

• Sees the "big picture" – has a global perspective

• Is positive and focused on the future, yet is also realistic

• Thinks critically, without a critical attitude

• Is a natural encourager, a cheerleader for the whole group

• Believes strongly in the mission of the school

• Feels at ease in an advising relationship with the principal

• "Fits" in with current board members

• Is not a "rubber stamp" nor a "devil's advocate"

• Demonstrates ability to delegate effectively

• Enjoys a wide network of friends and professional contacts

• Can think independently, not insisting on "my way"

• Is humble and not judgmental

• Keeps priorities clear while able to sort out the many details in a confusing situation


• Shows a willingness to adapt a program to meet needs

• Has a spouse supportive of having one serve on the board

• Presents no conflicts of interest

• Has a servant-leader attitude: "How can I help the group win?"

• Is willing to work, to do homework, and to serve

• Is able to work with the team, not against it

• Brings a wide variety of successful experiences

• Has rebounded from failure with integrity

• Demonstrates a commitment to honesty, loyalty, and excellence

• Understands the importance of confidentiality on sensitive information

• Shows a desire to grow and learn

Recognizing that one person is unlikely to exhibit all the "ideal" traits, it is important to determine which traits are needed immediately to round out the board personality and which ones can be developed during a term of service on the board.

Before asking someone to serve on the board it might be helpful to tell them exactly what is expected of them. Some of the danger signs in a board candidate profile include:

• Has personal (hidden) agendas

• Is consistently negative, always focusing on why something can't be done

• Is fearful of the future

• Is stingy

• Is extremely emotional, needy, or self-centered

Every board needs to schedule time for proper orientation and training. Superintendents are more than willing to work with boards in this regard. There are many good resources available including Power Point programs and videos. They need to be shared with board members. It is also recommended that a "training" component be built into every board meeting.

By taking the time and energy required to elect candidates who exhibit many "ideal" characteristics, the constituency can be assured of a board that will operate the school in the finest Christian tradition while meeting the varied needs of the school community.