Improving Student Achievement
Our public schools are about preparing students for the future. Our students must be prepared to compete on a global economic field and this means we must continue to improve student achievement. Boards of education need to work within the framework of a continuous improvement model to make sure our schools are preparing every student to succeed. Goal setting is an important part of that process. Boards must work with administrators, teachers and the community to set district goals. Board decisions should logically follow from board goals and objectives. The board should also establish procedures to annually evaluate the progress of the district.
The Kansas State Department of Education monitors and accredits schools in Kansas using Kansas Education System Accreditation (KESA).
While it has been said the board makes policy and the superintendent
administers it, the exact line between policy and administration is a
fine one. Typically, a superintendent recommends a particular policy to
the board, and the board considers it. They then accept, modify or
reject the recommendation. Once a policy is adopted by the board, the
superintendent is responsible for implementing the policy. The board and
individual board members should refrain from becoming involved in the
day-to-day operation of the schools. Kansas law states the
superintendent manages the district on a day to day basis, subject to
the rules and regulations set by the board of education.
Hiring the Superintendent
Because the day-to-day operation of the district is the superintendent’s
responsibility, selecting and retaining the right superintendent of
schools for the district is a critical board decision. Hiring the right
superintendent can mean having a school system in which children learn,
administrators and teachers work together harmoniously and parents are
satisfied and supportive. Perhaps no single decision a board makes has
more impact than the selection of the superintendent.
School boards serve as the leading advocate on behalf of students and
their schools in the community. Both individually and collectively,
school board members need to remain informed of issues at the local,
state and national levels. In a time when children come to school with
more challenges than ever before, schools acknowledge they cannot meet
all these needs alone. Instead, they collaborate with families,
community organizations and other public and private agencies to benefit
both the children and the community they serve.
As a result, the advocacy role is increasingly important for school
board members. Informing citizens about the schools’ accomplishments,
challenges and needs is an essential part of school board leadership.
Through their actions, board members represent the community and help
foster understanding and support for the schools. Specific
responsibilities for school boards include:
• Seeking others who can help expand educational opportunities to meet the needs of the whole child;
for children and families and establishing strong relationships with
parents and other mentors to help support students;
• promoting the schools’ instructional and other programs;
• leading in celebrating the achievements of students and others in education; and
• promoting school board service as a meaningful way to make long-term contributions to society.
These responsibilities mean school boards cannot work in isolation.
They must bring together the entire community (parents, community groups
and others concerned about education) in effective and responsible ways
to initiate and sustain lasting school improvement.
Local Governance Structure
With the exception of Fort Leavenworth USD 207, all Kansas school boards consist of seven elected members, and all unified school districts are responsible for the education of children in grades kindergarten through 12. Increasing numbers of school districts are involved in early childhood and adult education programs as well. Many school districts are also members of interlocal cooperatives or service centers. These cooperatives, whose governing bodies consist of local board members from participating school districts, provide services ranging from group purchasing to special education.
The Fort Leavenworth schools operate with two major differences compared to other Kansas districts. The district only serves grades K-9, and the board is composed of three residents of the base appointed by the commanding officer of Fort Leavenworth.