Educating School Board Members

Educating School Board Members

School board members bring a vast array of educational, career and life experience to their roles and incorporate that knowledge when making decisions. However, it is imperative to the operation of a school district that we also be knowledgeable in the functions, policies and procedures of boards of education. While we all continue to pursue educational opportunities to work on the skills and expertise necessary to serve on the school board, newly elected or appointed members undergo specific training that will expedite their fundamental knowledge and prepare them for board participation.

Prior to completing our first year of service, we are required by the NY State Department of Education (SED) to attend training on the Essentials of Governance and a minimum of six hours of training in Fiscal Oversight, Accountability and Fiduciary Responsibilities. We are fortunate that Monroe County School Board Association (MCSBA) is an approved provider and offers both of these training classes locally. Essentials of Governance training is offered annually in June which allows new board members the summer to review and absorb the information. Similarly, every November, MCSBA offers training on Local Policies and NY State Regulations for Oversight of District Finances.  This is also suitable timing as board members will be reviewing the governor’s proposed education budget in January and the initial proposed school district budget in February. 

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Just as PCSD makes a commitment to professional development of teachers new to the school district through an Induction Program, new Pittsford school board members also are required to go through an orientation. The board has created a New Board Member Handbook that gives an overview of school board service, both from a general and PCSD perspective. The orientation begins with being assigned a mentor who, as an experienced board member, helps guide and coach the new member on district board practices. This is a valuable training resource for ongoing support throughout the year.  In addition, new PCSD board members meet one-to-one with district leaders for an overview of their role and our board responsibilities as they pertain to their departments. While this training is not mandated by the state, this time is extremely beneficial as it gives new board members direct insight into information that is specifically related to PCSD and an opportunity to discuss any questions regarding material in the New Board Member Handbook. 

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We are very grateful for the time that SED, MCSBA and our PCSD leaders and mentors invest in our development as board members and believe that this process reflects the PCSD mission by preparing us to be our best, do our best and make a difference in the lives of others.