Voice Recognition

KSBA News Article

President's Perspective

Karen Byrd

No pain, no gain

Kentucky School Advocate
June 2023

By Karen Byrd
KSBA President

There are about a million knee and hip replacement surgeries in the U.S. each year. Lucky me, I’ve actually had both! Leading up to the decision for each procedure, the pain had become almost unbearable. Like a lot of school board members, I have a very busy schedule, and a bum hip and knee were just slowing me down.

You know what they say. “No pain, no gain.” Following the surgeries, I quite literally had more pep in my step, but recovery required commitment and focus on my part. The whole ordeal also gave me perspective that I can apply to board service.

Keep moving forward: Many are surprised to learn that, following joint replacements, doctors often have their patients up and moving the same day as the surgery. Statistically, patients who are up and at ’em immediately experience fewer complications, such as shorter hospital stays, less long-term pain, lower risk of blood clots, greater range of movement and smoother recovery.

With budgets and policies approved, graduations complete and schools nearly empty until August, your inclination may be to put your feet up and lay low for a while. While I certainly encourage you to find some time for self-care this summer, remember that being a school board member is a 365-days-a-year gig. Beware that learning loss can apply to elected leaders, too! Study your board materials, ask questions and commit to training in areas you may need improvement – something KSBA is more than happy to help with. That way, when the new school year kicks off in August, you’ll already be in motion.

Don’t let pain linger: The pain I was experiencing prior to my knee replacement in 2018 was actually a major reason I had to then have my hip replaced last year. My unwillingness to quickly address one issue was contributing significantly to another one. We are more effective as leaders if we learn to deal with challenges as they happen. By putting off the inevitable, we run the risk of compounding our problems. Eventually, what may be hobbling our district can no longer be ignored! Reflect on how your governance style can strike a better balance between addressing systemic issues and the day-to-day ones.

Exercise your advocacy muscles: Yes, the General Assembly will not convene again until January, but advocating passionately for our public schools requires that you stay in sync with lawmakers during the off season. The interim period is when many legislators are most accessible and available to listen. Things are also less heated and chaotic this time of year. They are doing the homework now that will inform their actions in the next session. Make it your mission to invite them to a school board meeting or set up a call to discuss issues facing your schools. Let them know your priorities. Look for events – like listening tours or meet ’n greets – where your lawmakers may be present. It is in your district’s best interest to keep those communications channels warm. Avoid atrophy!

The 2022-23 school year was a long one. Board teams, as always, were faced with tough decisions made even tougher by a difficult legislative session. I commend you for the role you played in moving your schools forward. Now it’s time to start the process all over again for the sake of the students we serve and the communities we love. I wish you all the best as you navigate an increasingly complicated education landscape. Please remember your association is here to support you every step of the way.

Thank you for your public service!

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