By Kerri Schelling
KSBA Executive Director
Thank you, school board members! Yes, I realize School Board Recognition Month was in January, but one month isn’t enough time to adequately tell you how valuable and appreciated you are. Whether you just took your first oath of office or your 14th, as a public school board member you represent the very best of American democracy and its tradition of volunteerism. Even though the job can be difficult, time consuming and sometimes contentious, it can also be among the most rewarding work you do. School boards are essential to high-quality public education as the governance of our school districts is directly related to student achievement. To our board members who rotated off their local boards in 2018 and to anyone reading that once served their communities in this important role, thank you again for your board service. To our new board members – welcome! We’re glad you’re here!
School board members have a lot of important dates to remember and to make that task a little easier, each year KSBA creates a calendar for our members filled with important deadlines, known statewide events and pictures of Kentucky students in action. For someone like me who has a strong need for organization and planning, looking at a brand-new calendar is almost a mystical experience. I know it will only be a matter of minutes before the daily squares start filling up with meetings, appointments and reminders, but staring at the crisp, clean pages is momentarily exhilarating because it’s a new beginning.
While I know not everyone shares my penchant for such structure, I still believe there is something about the new year that makes everyone think about possibilities. On a personal level, there are often resolutions to change something about ourselves, whether it be learning a new skill, getting more sleep or committing to go to the gym. School boards go through a similar examination, making decisions and setting goals about how they want to operate over the course of the next year. For many school board members that means taking inventory of their own knowledge and abilities and making plans to attend the KSBA Annual Conference.
The 2019 event will be held Feb. 22–24 at the Galt House in Louisville and as this year’s theme suggests, attendees will have the opportunity to hear speakers and participate in workshops designed to “Educate. Equip. Empower.” In addition to learning important information that will help board members lead their districts more effectively and efficiently, the conference provides networking that many members describe as priceless. According to the latest numbers available on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website, in FY17-18 there were 51,115 certified staff and 46,912 classified staff working in Kentucky’s public schools. Since there are only 867 school board members if all board seats are filled, proportionately you are in a unique group! With a small peer group, and work that is specialized, it can be difficult to make connections with people who understand exactly what you do. Taking advantage of time together to meet and talk with your board colleagues is one of the most valuable tools you have.
KSBA has a long history of connecting school board members; in fact, that was the driving force behind our creation. On April 17, 1936, 25 school board members and superintendents met at the Kentucky Hotel in Louisville and adopted a resolution to form a statewide organization of school board members. This gathering is considered the first annual conference. KSBA has certainly grown over the years but our mission to connect and serve school board members remains the same.