Voice Recognition

KSBA News Article

President's Perspective

Karen Byrd

Board members united by dedication

Kentucky School Advocate
February 2024

By Karen Byrd
KSBA President

This month marks one year since I was handed the gavel and officially installed as KSBA’s 48th president. I am not sure that qualifies me to lay profound wisdom on other local school board members, however I just started my 30th year of local board service so I have experienced a lot and, supposedly, experience is the best teacher!

I never expected to be KSBA president, but I did have a desire to serve within KSBA, first as a regional director for northern Kentucky and then as director-at-large. It was only after prayerful consideration and much encouragement that I then decided to put my name in the hat for president-elect. For me, this was a way to give back to KSBA for everything it has meant to me and my local board over the years.  

Among the benefits this position has afforded me, it’s provided a perch from which I witness, daily, the collective commitment of 857 local leaders entrusted with the governance of our school districts. One thing that has really captured my attention this year is the passion that KSBA members bring to their local school board service. It does not matter if they are serving on a county or independent board, if they have 1,500 students or 15,000, if they are rural, urban, suburban or whatever. While each of our districts is unique, our dedication as board members is the same.

As school board members, we learn early on that we will never make everyone happy. That can be hard to accept. It’s my nature to want everyone to feel the system is working for their best interests. Unfortunately, our communities seem to be more polarized than at any other point in my tenure as a local official. It is critical that, as board members and as champions for public education, we strive to present a united front.

Albert Einstein said it best: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” I firmly believe common ground can be found if we are working for the same purpose. In the case of local school boards, that purpose – and our responsibility – is developing, supporting and protecting excellence in public education so that each child within our schools has the best opportunities. Their futures, and the future of our Commonwealth, depend upon it.  

Through conversations I’ve had with board members at KSBA conferences and events, some of whom I am meeting for the first time, I see a shared, singular focus on doing whatever is needed to ensure each and every student in their district gets the best education. Everyone agrees being a local board member is not an easy job, but that does not seem to stop them from serving to the best of their ability.

As my presidency hits the halfway point, it has become blatantly apparent that I am not Superwoman, Wonder Woman and Batgirl all rolled into one. I have the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else does, yet the demands on my time have grown. I’ve had to learn (and relearn) how to organize my time and balance the demands.

As daunting as it all can be sometimes, I find superhuman strength in the fact that I am not alone, and I hope you do, too. You have hundreds of school board brothers and sisters accessible to you in part because of the learning and networking opportunities provided by the Kentucky School Boards Association. You have talented KSBA staff and a board of directors who are working and advocating hard on your behalf.

Your voice as a local leader is made stronger because it is joined in unison by countless others across Kentucky. I look forward to hearing many of those voices next month at KSBA’s 2024 Annual Conference!

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