By Durward Narramore
If you are reading this, you have survived the start of another school year. Some of you have gotten off to a great start while others have hit a few small bumps in the road, and some have had some major events to overcome. No matter what kind of school-year start your district has had, I know that you as board members are doing everything possible within the means you can afford to provide your kids with the best education possible and to ultimately make them productive members of society.
And once again we are asked to do more with less as a result of well-deserved, but mandated employee pay raises over the next biennium. Some boards have been forced to make adjustments this year to compensate for the 1 percent raise, going back to local taxpayers to explain why the district needs more money in the form of increased tax revenues. School boards taking up their working budgets for 2015-16 will find the situation even worse, with a 2 percent raise mandated that year. Districts that escaped a tax increase this year may not be so lucky when the new school year opens next year and boards have to face that often-polarizing tax-rate decision.
Many of you have had to make the hard choices (in an election year), but have decided that we as board members are elected by the public to do one thing and one thing only: to see that our children get the best education possible. But when the election is over and the board members are sworn into office, we are not there to push our own agendas, but we are there to serve the children. Invariably, if board members have a personal agenda, they will quickly learn that not much will get done; they will either get bored or frustrated, or finally come to the understanding that this about children and not adults. If that happens, they will become great board members and represent the children. If not, they will wither on the vine.
As long as we make decisions based on “How does this affect the kids?” then we will always be doing the right thing for the right reasons.
That has been my mission for 20-plus years of board service and I hope that it is your only mission.
When I walked on the stage to accept the KSBA presidency in 2013 I asked the question, “How are we doing?” as an organization.
I now ask you, “How are you doing as a board member?”
— Narramore also serves as chairman of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education