As citizen leaders, individual school board members face complex and demanding challenges. They are alternately described as having the most important volunteer jobs in the country and facing the toughest challenge in elected American government. Yet school board members are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to our nation’s public schools. All Michigan citizens should recognize the vital contributions of these men and women and the crucial role they play in the education of our children.
Public education is the backbone of American society, and local school boards are deeply rooted in U.S. tradition. It’s the foundation on which our democracy was built. Today local school boards continue to do the most important work of their communities—that of educating our youth.
Their job is to establish a vision for the education program, design a structure to achieve that vision, ensure schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate for continuous improvement in student learning. The job of a school board member is tough, the hours long, and the thanks few and far between. Too often we’re quick to criticize school board members without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions.
School board members come from a variety of backgrounds, yet they share a common goal—helping students achieve in school and life. As a state, Michigan has faced many challenges, but the key to a brighter future is a strong public education system.
We often forget about the personal sacrifices school board members make. Board members contribute hundreds and hundreds of hours each year leading their districts. The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend leading their districts. Collectively, they spend more than 7,500 hours on professional development to keep abreast of the latest trends in educational leadership, are deeply involved in community activities and spend many hours at extracurricular events. They continually advocate for the children of our state, and in the past year, school board members made more than 1,100 passionate pleas to legislators, speaking out against budget cuts and pushing for smart reforms.
The foundation of school leadership is ensuring the highest quality learning opportunities for all students. In South Lyon Community Schools, school board members must develop policies and make tough decisions on complex educational and social issues impacting the entire community. They bear responsibility for an annual budget of $78 million, over 8,600 students, approximately 1240 employees and 12 school buildings.
Every year, South Lyon Community Schools Board of Education members take a stand in support of public education. This is the time to thank your school board members for the tough decisions they make, their commitment to receive board training on their own time and working tirelessly for the future—our kids.
The month of January marks the annual observance of School Board Recognition Month. This is a time to show our appreciation and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. In January, join with others from throughout our district and state to salute the men and women who provide grassroots governance of public schools.
Please join us in specifically thanking our SLCS Board members: President Randy Clark; Vice President Margaret Fallow; Treasurer Anthony Abbate; Secretary Carrie Hanshaw; Trustee Eric Kennedy; Trustee Laura Hewitt; and Trustee Sheila Ryzyi who just recently resigned, for their leadership as board members and their dedication to our children.