Best Practices for School Board Member Training

Lena Eisenstein
5 min read
School board members make decisions that have a significant and long-term impact on their students, schools and communities. To equip school board members with the necessary knowledge to successfully fulfill their responsibilities, board members should undergo regular training and development.

It is important to look at legislation or policy regarding school board member training requirements. Some states require school board members to receive and report regular or annual training. School boards, themselves, may implement policy requiring board members to meet certain criteria regarding training and/or development.

Should your school board be in a position where school board training is not required by either state legislation or school board policy, it does not make the regular training and development of school board members any less imperative.

Community members, the constituents for a school board, find that school board member training is vital to the progress and success of the school board and the community. A study from the Michigan Association of School Boards found that 74% of participants believed that formal professional development instruction for board members was either 'Essential' or, at least, 'Very Important.'

The Different Types of School Board Member Training

The field of education is complex and challenging, and requires policymakers and administrators to address issues from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. This is why school board member training can vary on a number of topics.

Examples of some areas of training include:
  • School laws and regulations
    • Federal, state and local laws all impact public education. It is imperative to be aware of these ever-changing policies to effectively make decisions regarding local public education. School board member training can share documents related to legislation and policies on school board management software, like BoardDocs, for continuous reference and review.
  • School finance
    • Public constituents, the community members that have elected the school board, will want to be aware of exactly where public school finances are being spent. Knowing exactly how to plan and establish a school district budget, and then implement that budget, will set up a school board for success, not only in public spending, but also with community members.
  • Community relations
    • Community and media relations are an important part of an effective school board communications plan. Knowing how and when to use community and media alerts and press releases appropriately, the differences between various forms of media interviews (print, radio and television), the 'do's and don'ts' of media communications, and implementing communication strategies will set up a school board for high-quality and successful communication.
  • Effective governance
    • An effective leadership team is made up of members with a range of responsibilities from strategic to operational. If school board members are not aware of the roles regarding governance, it can cause conflict and other issues. Learning about governance is an opportunity to compare and contrast the roles and responsibilities of the school board and the superintendent. It is helpful to discuss and learn various strategies to fulfill the governance role.
  • Employment and evaluation of the superintendent
    • Clarifying expectations and establishing a way to provide professional feedback on performance should be conducted through a quality evaluation system established between the school board and the superintendent. BoardDocs, a school board management software platform, features capabilities to maintain evaluation materials for superintendents.
  • Strategic planning and goal-setting
    • Strategic planning is the process whereby a school board establishes a vision and mission for its work, determining the most critical needs of the district to establish goals and next steps. Strategic planning and goal setting go hand-in-hand with effective governance. School board member training in this area is helpful in navigating how school board members can effectively utilize strategic planning and goal-setting to achieve the goals of the community. School board management software, like BoardDocs, can make it easy for the school board to share the strategic plan and goals achieved. With BoardDocs, school boards can utilize the goal-setting features to list tasks that have been fulfilled and a timeline for those that still need to be completed.

Key Benefits of School Board Member Training

Board member training is about providing these community leaders with the information, training and support needed to best serve their district. Developing well-trained and effective school board members will help to positively affect student performance and education.

School board member training and development opportunities provide board members with focused and structured opportunities to:

  • Obtain content knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and successfully govern their school districts.
  • Stay up-to-date on issues that are currently affecting education and student outcomes.
  • Acquire crucial leadership skills and capabilities.
Utilizing the right tools, like an online board management software, can make training materials easily accessible to school board members. BoardDocs, a Diligent brand, has features that promote board member training in ways that are realistic and obtainable.

Board members can load board education materials to the BoardDocs Library. This allows board members to review at their convenience. Board members can also add dates to the event calendar featured in BoardDocs for board member training sessions. BoardDocs also allows users to publish policy books for continued review. Utilizing board management software, like BoardDocs, school board member trainings can be more easily accessible.

The decisions made by school board members are long term with great impact on the local community. Education is a field that is complex, challenging and ever-changing. Regular school board member training and development keeps board members abreast of issues while developing skills to contribute to the progress and success of the school district.

The variety of topics that school board member training can cover shows that school board members are asked to be local experts on a variety of topics, and the burden is that the decisions made by these community leaders will have a lasting impact upon the students, teachers, staff and other members of the local public.

School board members are advocates and champions within their community. School board member training and development allows board members to make use of the training resources available to them and then implement those practices to best serve the public in an effective way.