Trustees volunteer because they care

It’s been said that optimists see the glass half-full, pessimists see it half-empty, but volunteers see a glass of water and look around for someone who is thirsty. Such is the work of a school board member.

Many people do not see us as volunteers because we are elected, but school board trustees freely spend thousands of hours each year in service to the children of Idaho. We do not do it because we are compensated; we do it because we care.

We care that the children in our communities have safe buildings in which to learn and play.

We care that our children receive a world-class education.

We care enough about our future to freely invest our time now.

Joe Williams, the head of Democrats for Education Reform, wrote, “Public education is at a crucial juncture in America. In its current state, it doesn’t get the job done for the students who need it most. Its survival as an institution requires a return to the notion that students should come first…[to do otherwise] rais[es] serious questions about the American public education system’s ability to survive into the future.”

If education is at a critical juncture, the community has elected us to guide it down the right path right now.

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School board members oversee a system that spends more than $1.2 billion a year – that’s about half of the money the State of Idaho receives from its taxpayers.

When school districts are facing financial challenges as we have seen in recent years, school board members are tasked with making difficult decisions. But whether we are in times of financial abundance or scarcity, school board members must manage education funding in ways that spend taxpayer dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible.

That’s why we care about results.

The Idaho School Boards Association has recently brought forth legislation intended to strengthen the ability of trustees to make those difficult decisions and support a system that yields great results. Some are excited that this legislation will give trustees the tools they need to lead districts at the local level. Others have criticized school board members, saying this legislation was proposed at the wrong time.

But we realize even when we disagree, our concern stems from the same place: We all care about kids and want the best for them.

I invite you to join the ranks of thousands of volunteers who serve in our public education system. Look around for someone who is thirsty. Help volunteer school board members and hard-working professionals forge a path forward so all Idaho students have access to a great education!

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