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What makes a great school board member

Being a school board member is a tough job. It’s a volunteer position with heavy responsibilities, but with no pay and little if any accolades. The job is always wrought with potential politics and high drama. 

The best advice we can give, based on decades of covering school boards, is not to take things personally. One should always maintain a level of decorum and professionalism. There is no place for name calling and personal attacks — against each other or the public they serve.

An effective school board plays an important watchdog role, keeping our local schools on track by setting policies that affect the children of our community. The school board sets the vision and goals for the district, and holds itself and its superintendent accountable for results. 

A key factor to accomplishing this is collaboration among board members. We don’t expect such collaboration to be free of disagreements and conflict — these things come with the job, especially if board members are asking pointed questions, being analytical and critical, to a point.  

It has become obvious to us that the Brookings-Harbor School Board is struggling with internal issues and personality conflicts. To keep the conflicts from getting out of hand, we recommend the following:

•Share and defend your views, but listen to the views of others.

•Be respectful of the opinions and positions of your fellow board members.

•Do your homework and don’t simply “rubber stamp” all the superintendent’s proposals without asking hard questions.

•Vote based on facts and data, rather than emotions and political pressure.

Remember: A great school board member focuses on what is best for all, not on their own agenda or that of any one board member or administrator.

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