School Views: Board of Education’s roles and responsibilities
Election Day has come and gone, and I would like to thank the 11 individuals who ran for the five board seats on the Eagle County School District Board of Education. The executive assistant to the Board of Education, Missy Gerard, asked that I also extend a thank you from here. And of course, thank you to Missy for all of her hard work throughout this election season. Missy was integral in helping all candidates through the process.
Being an Eagle County School District Board Director is an unpaid volunteer position, considered by some to be one of the most valuable, yet challenging in the community. We’re appreciative of those who were willing to run and donate their time and energy to such an important, and sometimes thankless, role. Having such a wide breadth of candidates was a terrific opportunity for our community to engage in dialogue and decide what was important when casting ballots.
Here in Eagle County, the job of a board director comes with a large amount of responsibility: overseeing an organization with over 6,600 students, 1,000 employees, an operating budget exceeding $100 million, and the duty to ensure that all of our children receive an education that will prepare them to be contributing members of society. The job has been complicated in recent years by a global pandemic, and the polarizing politics of a relentless culture war. When working through these issues, the board’s decisions are made by consensus and through conversation and collaboration.
Serving on a school board requires dedication and time; about 35 to 45 hours a month. There are always lengthy board packets to preview in preparation for meetings. There are conversations that take place throughout the community. On top of that are board meetings, committee meetings, and school visits.
Board of Education directors are a policy governance board that, by definition, lead at an “arm’s length from operations.” The board continually monitors all aspects of the district to make sure the organization is making progress toward its desired end goals. They ensure the school district manages taxpayer resources responsibly, and meets the needs of all students. They have a single direct report throughout the district, the superintendent. I then take their direction and act upon it as necessary to reach the desired goals.
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I look forward to working with this new board and growing with its members as they learn their roles and responsibilities. I’ll answer their questions and take their guidance to ensure
Eagle County School District meets the goals outlined in our strategic plan. Between the seven-member board and myself, we will collaborate as a team and challenge one another to continually improve how we serve our students and their families.
We also have some board members who are wrapping up their time as members on the school board. On behalf of the entire staff I would like to thank Kate Cocchiarella, Shelly Jarnot and Fernando Almanza for their tireless efforts over the past years. Their commitment to our students was unwavering and they should be recognized for their service.
I consider it a privilege to serve as the superintendent of Eagle County School District and work alongside our new board, education professionals and incredible support staff.
Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County School District. Email him at email@example.com.