Local School Boards and the Business Community: An Invitation to Engage
Schools are the heart of a local community, and the decisions made by school boards affect not only the students and families directly involved, but the health of the whole city or town. The goal of any school system is to effectively prepare all students for success, so that graduates can become part of a skilled workforce that will attract businesses to and enhance economic vitality in the community. Local school governance has routinely been left out of discussions about education, and school boards often function with little oversight from the communities they serve. Even those who are aware of the role school boards play often don’t know how they can help. Yet, school boards have significant power and authority over the quality of education in our schools. They set the vision for closing the achievement gap and improving outcomes and, in most districts, are tasked with hiring a superintendent to carry out that vision.
School boards are also the entity responsible for adopting a fiscally sound budget that equitably distributes resources to schools and for engaging in collective bargaining agreements with teachers and union leaders. School boards are responsible for adopting a rigorous curriculum, ensuring that all students have access to quality instruction and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate programs, and channeling resources to support partnerships with communities, among many other responsibilities.
The business community has a critical role to play in supporting the effective operation of local schools. The expertise business leaders can offer in the key areas of school governance—budget and human capital management, as well as policy development and implementation—is essential to a high-functioning school district. If employers would like to improve outcomes and have a more prepared workforce, they must play larger roles within the system. Business leaders know, more than anyone, that systemic change and improvement come from the top.