In recent months, “local control” has become the hot buzzword. There is a renewed sense that local actions matter, and indeed, all politics is local. The board of education exemplifies this, as school board members address two things that are important to most people – their children and their money!
The 2017 data on Westchester/Putnam school board candidates is revealing:
- While the number of districts with contested elections had been trending downward, this year it increased from 40 percent to 51 percent.
- A record 141 people are running for 95 seats, and the percentage of non-incumbent candidates on the ballot increased from 46 percent to 57 percent.
Before you fill in your ballot, consider that the board of education is a policy-making body whose fiduciary responsibilities include finances and the education of children. Select candidates who will leave their own agenda at the door and focus on the long-term needs of all children through thoughtful consensus building, while considering local taxpayer constraints.
A well-functioning board focuses on strategic issues — district vision, standards, goals and policies — and allows the superintendent to be the CEO, setting objectives and plans, managing staff and operations, making recommendations to the board and providing data for decision-making.
The right mix will facilitate a culture of continuous improvement, student success and respectful, open, honest communication; the wrong mix, or too many egos in the mix, can tip the balance and thwart district progress. When you go to the polls, remember that every vote matters, particularly in local elections.
Lisa Davis, Executive Director
Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association, Harrison