Role of the Board & Superintendent
What Does the School Board Do?
A joint publication of the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association, Roles and Responsibilities, delineates the specific responsibilities of school boards and superintendents. Some of those responsibilities are as follows:
- The board's primary role is the establishment of policy.
- Works with the superintendent and community to develop a vision for the schools.
- Advocates on behalf of students and their schools and promotes the benefits of public education.
- Supports the superintendent in all decisions that conform to board policy, other decisions made by the board, or recognized professional standards.
- Provides for policy on the effective management of complaints.
- Provides for the periodic review of policies.
- Ensures board members understand that, under law, the school board acts as a board and that individual board members have no independent authority.
The National School Boards Association has adopted a code of ethics to guide school board members. The code of ethics includes statements regarding "supporting the highest level of education possible; making decisions in terms of the best interest of the educational welfare of children; recognition that it is not the school boards responsibility to run the schools, but to see that they are well run; refusing to represent special interests or partisan politics; supporting decisions made by the majority of the board; referring all complaints to the appropriate level; and observing state laws and regulations pertaining to public education. The superintendent of schools is the only employed staff that reports directly to the school board.
What Does the Superintendent Do?
The following is taken from the same joint publication:
The superintendent is the only employee hired directly by the school board and serves as the chief executive officer of the board with general supervision of the school system. The superintendent is not a member of the school board itself but serves as the professional educational adviser to the board.
The school board is a legislative and policy making body. The superintendent is hired to provide professional educational advice on policy development and implements the policies the board adopts.
The job description calls for the performance of the following duties:
- Preparing the agenda for each meeting.
- Preparing the annual budget for board consideration.
- Preparing and submitting state and federal applications and reports.
- Recommends the appointment and termination of all personnel.
- Is responsible for the instructional program.
- Maintains a continuous study of current problems.
- Determines the emergency discontinuance of school.
Other duties that are inherent in providing educational leadership for the school district includes the following:
- Keeping board members informed about the needs of the district and about school operations and programs.
- Providing for the continuous improvement of all facets of school district operations, especially as it relates to teaching and learning.
- Encouraging long-range and strategic planning.
- Ensuring that professional development opportunities are available for district employees.
- Developing a public relations program.
- Assures that all decisions are made with the best interest of students in mind.
A closing statement from the joint publication gives school boards and superintendents guidance for the context of how both mus view public schools: "Our public schools are the foundation of our democracy. They keep hope alive, and they open a world of possibilities for our society. In fact our nation has survived and prospered precisely because it is firmly grounded in the concept of equal educational opportunity for all. Ultimately, the effectiveness of our public schools will determine our ability to sustain a free and democratic society.