Kentucky School Advocate
By Becky Burgett
Gallatin County Board Member
As a seasoned board member (meaning old), I often reflect on board service in both the present and past tense. In my 26 years of service, I’ve had the privilege of working with some stellar individuals, and several still influence me today, especially when I am struggling with a board issue. I didn’t realize it early in my board career, but integrity and respect are qualities that will always stand out to others. They will also help you sleep at night. No one said board service was going to be easy, but policies, budgets, superintendent selection and evaluation, and the thoughtful setting of tax rates are all vital for quality schools.
Working together as a team is central to accomplishing anything, as none of us are successful alone. I enjoy board service and it has been my passion for more than two decades, but now I’m starting to think about the next chapter. When the time comes, I’m not just quitting; I’m committed to identifying and nurturing future leaders to succeed me and to begin their own journey of lifting up local education, working to remove barriers and to increase student achievement for all. Somewhere in each of our communities is that person, but he or she may require a little encouragement, mentoring or the benefit of your own experience to answer the call to public service as a school board member.
Make the 2022-23 school year the year you share your time and experience with others to build future educational leaders in your community. Our schools and communities
are better with a continuous influx of knowledgeable, open minded board members, prepared and determined to make a positive difference in the lives of all children. Our work as school board members is not complete until we have done all we can to plant that seed from which future leaders may thrive.
5 strategies for board succession planning
Give your district a heads up. If the circumstance allow, provide advance notice if you don’t plan to run in your next election. This gives the public time to consider their options and identify strong candidates.
Know your constituents. Look for those with a vested interest in the success of your district and those who regularly provide feedback about school issues. Plant the seed in their minds that they should consider board service and nurture their interest in future conversations.
Examine your local PTA/PTO and school council leaders for eager parents ready for a new challenge. Many board members began their district service volunteering in the schools, fundraising for the PTA or sitting on a school council. Those folks are committed and can provide a unique perspective.
Share district successes you are most proud of and remember to credit the “board team.” The emphasis on teamwork and collaboration is needed more than ever!
Communicate your roles and responsibilities as a school board member to potential leaders. Highlight best practices – perhaps even sharing what you learned at a recent KSBA training – and the importance of finding common ground. Refer them to KSBA’s Leadership Guide, Election Resources Guide and other available resources that paint a vivid picture of district governance.
Becky Burgett is 26-year member of the Gallatin County Board of Education and is an ethics and compliance specialist for Procter & Gamble. She also serves as a cadre trainer for KSBA, presenting on a variety of topics including superintendent evaluation, ethics, effective governance and public image.