Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Celebrating School Board Appreciation month


As June unfolds, it brings a special occasion that deserves recognition – School Board Appreciation Month. This dedicated month is an opportunity for Idahoans to celebrate the efforts and values of local school board members, who play a significant role in ensuring the health and vitality of your local school system and, in turn, your community. Please join us in acknowledging the commitment, dedication, and the contributions these volunteer officials make to ensure the success of their youth.

Selected by the community, for the community, of the community – school boards are composed of local residents who have a vested interest in the quality of their public schools. Elected by their community, school boards are one of the pillars of our public education system. The roles and responsibilities of a school board member range from adopting policies and administrative procedures; to hiring a superintendent; to overseeing millions of state and local tax dollars. All with one resounding goal: to create a school system where their students and their staff can thrive – all while board members are balancing the demands of a professional job and family responsibilities, while serving as a conduit between the school district or charter school, and the community.

What does a school board member do, you ask? Here are some of the most basic, important functions of a volunteer school board.

  1. Set the Mission, Vision, and Strategic Plan. Striving for excellence is at the core of every school board member’s mind. A high functioning school board member supports high standards of achievement and is continuously monitoring the progress of initiatives led by the superintendent, who is working collaboratively with their administrators, teachers, families, and local civic engagement organizations. This is done through vetting and adopting curriculum, fostering professional development opportunities for their staff, and creating an environment that fosters learning.
  2. Policy Adoption A citizen school board often governs through policies, by adopting clear, understandable expectations for its staff, students, and community members. School boards are responsible for developing and adopting policies that guide the operations of the school or district, consistent with state and federal law. These important policies touch on various aspects – such as, student conduct, dress codes, procurement standards, and grievance protocols.
  3. Budget Adoption and Oversight Managing budgets within Idaho’s fiscal conservativism can be a challenging task,
  4. their budgets with a patchwork of state, federal, and local tax funding – all with their own unique requirements. Further, many activities – such as extracurriculars and athletics – come without funding sources. School boards work diligently to allocate their resources efficiently, ensuring their budget is reflective of its mission and vision and that it directly benefits students.
  5. Community Engagement School boards are the conduit between the school system they represent and the community. If done effectively, this is a two-way process. Board members listen to the concerns of parents, students, and community members and advocate for policies and practices that reflect those needs and values. Similarly, school board members are sharing the challenges and successes of the school system back to their community, asking for their feedback and support as they collectively tackle challenges together.
  6. Legislative Advocacy Not only are school board members the conduit between the community and the school system, but they also advocate for their students by holding valuable relationships with legislative officials, and by providing lawmakers with the insight and information they need to make statewide investments for our students.

School Board Appreciation Month is a time to acknowledge the essential role that our school board members play. Thank you to the 800+ school board members for your passion, commitment, and dedication in preparing our students for their future. Please, take a moment to recognize and celebrate the contributions of school boards – as doing so will honor their often-unnoticed hard work, and inspire others to get involved. Our students depend on us!

Starr Olsen

Starr Olsen

Starr Olsen is President of the ISBA and is from the Dietrich School District.

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