Voice Recognition

KSBA News Article

Executive Insights

Kerri Schelling

Haunting realities of serving on a school board

Kentucky School Advocate
October 2023

By Kerri Schelling
KSBA Executive Director

Halloween is still a few weeks away, but I am already swept up in the excitement of the costumes, the decorations and classic scary movies. It is the one time each year that I actually look forward to being just a little scared, knowing that, at the end of the day, the monsters aren’t real.  

For district leaders, the scariest experiences are not confined to the realm of make-believe. School board service can be a daunting endeavor, filled with its own unique set of challenges that send shivers down one’s spine. There are often decisions, systemic challenges and very real threats to public education that continue to haunt you long after the board meeting adjourns. The weight of those issues – and the hours upon hours of wrestling with them – is enough to make anyone howl at the moon.  

If you were lucky enough to attend one of KSBA’s seven regional meetings to date, or if you plan to attend one of the remaining five gatherings, the roundtable discussion portion of the program draws its inspiration from Halloween. We ask you, as school board members and administrators, “What keeps you up at night?” Where to begin?

One chilling aspect of school board service is the knowledge that you are often the bearer of bad news. Difficult-but-necessary decisions can leave you feeling like the Grim Reaper and constantly looking over your shoulder for slashers of education funding and frightful legislation can make it feel like spooky season year-round.

And let’s not forget what’s often lurking in the shadows – the special interests and political agendas that can cast an unwanted influence. All the while, you’re fighting on behalf of our public schools against the dark forces of misinformation.

School district governance can get you lost in a labyrinth of red tape and complex policies that can seem never-ending – a bureaucratic nightmare!

Despite all the things that go bump in the night, serving on a school board should be more treat than trick. You have a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of students and to represent the voices in your community. You witness, firsthand, the power of a quality education. The only thing better than giving out candy every year is giving out diplomas.

School board members, each and every one, are brave souls who dare to take on the spookiest of circumstances. And remember, you’re not alone in the dark. KSBA is here to provide you with the resources to handle whatever comes creeping your way. Whether it’s policy guidance, legal expertise, professional development or legislative coverage, as the leading advocate for school board members across Kentucky, KSBA staff are right beside you, ready and willing to help you face your governance fears.

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