By Kerri Schelling
KSBA Executive Director
“Where are you going?” It’s a simple enough question and one I’ve asked or answered more times than I can count. But have you ever stopped to think about why we’re all so interested in one another’s whereabouts? Over the years I’ve realized that people ask the question for a variety of reasons and rarely is it mere curiosity about a physical location. The majority of time people are asking because they are looking for the answer to a bigger question: “Are you heading in the right direction?”
This need for reassurance can sometimes be interpreted as mistrust in your actions. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only teenager who thought it was an unreasonable request as I walked out the door!) But what annoyed me when my mother asked, comforted me when I asked my son. Not because of a lack of trust, but because I wanted to confirm that he was making well-informed choices based on the values and ideals that were important to our family. The same can be said of community members when they look to their school district leaders.
When parents, guardians, district staff and taxpayers pose the question of their elected leaders it often comes from a place of sincere interest and engagement, not suspicion. People want to know because they care about the results. After all, school board members have the awesome responsibility of overseeing two very important things: the education of the community’s children and the wise stewardship of their tax dollars.
Effective school board members also ask this question as part of their responsibility in providing leadership to the district. Setting the district vision is an important first step in the journey, but monitoring the progress and outcomes is critical to reaching the desired destination. Trust is built and sustained when boards communicate openly with the stakeholders in their communities and when the citizens join in the dialogue. It’s hard to ask someone to follow you when they – or you – aren’t sure where the journey will take them.
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world of public education, it is more important than ever to keep the conversation going. As locally elected representatives, school board members are uniquely suited to fill this role; they understand the community’s needs and wishes and carry those with them to the board table when decisions are made to ensure those interests are represented. They are also able to provide their constituents with clear explanations of board actions and complex education issues. Board members are the critical bridge between a community and its public schools and KSBA is committed to assisting them in that work.
School board teams want to make sure that their communities are well-informed about where the district is heading and the same is true when they think about their association. Our members shouldn’t have to wonder about the direction KSBA is going, what our plans are for the future or how we are going to meet their needs. To help direct our work and keep our members up-to-date, KSBA has created a new strategic plan around our four core priorities of Member Ownership, Advocacy, Service Delivery and Partnerships. We have clear goals for our work and well-defined outcomes that will ensure KSBA stays focused and prepared for whatever comes our way. KSBA is going great places and I welcome you to take the journey with us!