Board Member Wants to Drop In on the Campus. Problem?

The Daily Dawg for this week is going to be entirely based on SB 1566, a new law that is chock full of interesting provisions. Let’s start with the issue of board members who visit school campuses.

This can be a confusing situation for a board member.  One day you are an interested and involved parent.  You drop in at the school fairly regularly.  They know you there. They appreciate your involvement and the number of things you volunteer for.  You are welcome in the office, and even in the teacher’s lounge.

Then you get elected to the school board.  You continue to bop in for visits to the school, but now, it somehow feels different.  What to do?

As of next school year, your district will have a school board policy about this.  Here is a short excerpt from SB 1566:

A district shall create a policy on visits to a district campus or other facility by a member of the board of trustees of the district.

This is long overdue.  Superintendents and principals have expressed concerns about this issue for decades.  Board members are usually well intentioned, but sometimes unaware of how their changed status alters perceptions of the teachers.  The board member who drops in on a school, particularly if the board member has no child at that campus, creates a ripple effect. Sometimes there is apprehension bordering on fear: “What was that about?”

Superintendents sometimes view the board member visiting the campus as the first indication of a governance problem, the first sign that the board member is attempting to usurp the superintendent’s role.  Sometimes that’s exactly what it is.  Then again, sometimes superintendents overreact.

So this is an excellent issue for the board to address through policy.  That way, there will be a common set of rules, approved by the board.  Most districts already have a policy that addresses visitors to a campus, including board members.  You can find this one at GKA Local. Look for an update from TASB (it will be included with Update 109) with more specific language about board members.