How local school boards function in Texas, how to get involved

ByDanica Lloyd Community Impact Newspaper logo
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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Public school board members in Texas are unpaid volunteers elected to their positions by voters living in the communities they serve. School boards provide local governance of their school districts and can only take action by a majority vote at public meetings.

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ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

School boards oversee management, policymaking, planning and evaluation while the superintendent implements these matters and manages the district's day-to-day operations, according to the Texas Association of School Boards.

1. Adopt goals and monitor success

One of the functions of a local school board is to develop goals and priorities for the district. Administration regularly presents reports on district operations and progress toward those goals. State data can also help trustees compare performance to other districts.

2. Adopt policies and review for effectiveness

Trustees adopt local policies that guide district operations, such as citizen participation at public meetings and the board's evaluation of the superintendent. State and federal law also regulate policies, such as campaign ethics and when closed meetings can take place.

3. Hire and evaluate the superintendent

School boards are responsible for hiring and evaluating the superintendent, who manages the district's day-to-day operations and advises the board on governance decisions. The superintendent also ensures the board's policies are implemented appropriately.

4. Adopt a budget and set a tax rate

The board adopts the district's budget and tax rate each year. Trustees ensure the administration's budget proposal aligns with their goals and priorities, amend the budget throughout the year as needed and approve an annual financial report by an independent auditor.

5. Communicate with the community

According to the TASB, school boards serve as the link between the district and the community. Trustees inform residents, students, staff, parents and the media about district plans, actions and accomplishments.

GETTING INVOLVED

The Texas Open Meetings Act requires government entities to conduct public business responsibly, transparently and in compliance with the law.

Attend a public meeting: Residents can attend school board meetings except when policy permits trustees to meet in closed session.

Speak before the board: Most school boards dedicate time in their public meeting agendas to hear input from community members.

Request public records: Citizens have access to information about government activity through the Texas Public Information Act.

STATE BOARD DUTIES

The State Board of Education includes 15 individuals elected to four-year terms. This board sets policies and standards for public schools statewide. The State Board of Education:

  • establishes curriculum standards;
  • reviews and adopts instructional materials;
  • determines graduation requirements;
  • oversees the Texas Permanent School Fund; and
  • reviews and potentially vetoes the commissioner's proposed award of new charter schools.

This article comes from our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers.