The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Board of education

A board of education or a school board or school committee is the title of the board of directors of a local school district. This elected council helps determine educational policy in a small regional area, such as a city, state, or province. It usually shares power with a larger institution, such as the government's department of education. The name of the board is also often used to refer to the school system under the board's control.

In the United States

and generally the statewide organization responsible for the oversight of such local boards as well.

Boards of education are usually elected by residents of the school district but may also be appointed by mayors or other executives of jurisidictions such as cities or counties whose jurisdictions may be coextensive with that of the school district. There may also be circumstances where nonresident property owners whose property taxes can be affected by a levy enacted by the school board may have a right to vote in school board elections as well. State boards of education are generally appointed by the governor but are elected by popular vote in a few states.

The size and authority of boards of education varies widely. In some districts they have the authority to set and levy tax rates; in others they may have only the authority to recommend such to a legislative body or executive. Most boards have between five and fifteen members. In some districts, especially small rural ones, they may approve the hiring and dismissal of every teacher; more typically they are responsible only for overall policies and proceedures and leave the day-to-day operation of the district to a professional educator, who is generally referred to by the title of superintendent of schools or director of schools. In rural and suburban districts in particular, there are often discussions about the abilities and powers of individual board members and what rights that they have (if any) to observe and comment on individual schools or classes. A consensus has been reached in many districts in recent years that board members have only "collective" authority when meeting and acting as a board and should generally not be involved as individuals in attempting to run schools directly.

Particularly in rural areas, the board of education of a county-wide school district may be the area's largest employer and thus the board may be subject to political considerations that may be lessened or lacking in other circumstances. Compensation for board members varies from none at all in districts where members serve on a volunteer basis to jurisdictions where the position is considered to be a major part-time job and may pay thousands of dollars per annum. State Board of Education members in most states are reimbursed for their travel expenses in conjunction with meetings, although this also varies on a state-by-state basis.

Lists of school boards

Last updated: 08-14-2005 07:46:11
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