Finding Your Voice

Just Been Voted In As A New School Board Trustee? Avoid These Three Mistakes

by Rick Henderson

Being voted in as a new school board trustee is an honor, and you might be planning to spend your time making your school better in a number of ways. However, in order to function most effectively as a trustee, it is important that you avoid the following mistakes.

Ignoring the Ethics Rules

You might not even know if there is a written code of ethics that you must follow in your role as a school board trustee, but ignorance of that policy could cause trouble for you. In fact, simple transgressions such as talking about your favorite political candidate may be a reason you might be asked to step down.

Before attending your first trustee meeting, ensure that you've had time to track down and read any ethics policy in place so that you can talk to the other trustees about any concerns or questions you might have. You may have had the ethics policy delivered to you after your election, or you might have to ask other members of the board where you can obtain a copy so that you can review it for yourself.

Not Communicating with Students and Teachers

While you might have a full plate as far as your schedule is concerned, it is critical that you spend some time walking among the students and meeting with teachers in order to get a real feel for their concerns and desires. You might not think that's necessary in your role as a trustee, but not having your finger on the pulse of activity on campus can set you up for surprises, heated exchanges and other negative outcomes. Talk with as many people as you can who aren't trustees to get an idea of where you might be able to to create positive changes.

Not Preparing for Meetings

It is easy to get caught up in your other responsibilities and fail to read documents that will be discussed at your next trustee meeting. You might not think you have time to study up on a topic that you'll be voting on, as you think that presentations will be made before the votes are cast. However, it is vital that you realize that the better you prepare on your own, the better you are equipped to offer viewpoints and solutions that others might not have thought of. If you aren't adequately prepared, you might later discover information that could have affected your views and might have changed everything.

Steering clear of the mistakes laid out in this article can help you to continue to do the best work possible for everyone in your school. Be sure to work closely with the other trustee members so that you can accomplish a great deal in your role. Contact a professional like Katharine Hamilton for more information.