Candidates assess school board’s role
October 17, 2005
Editor’s note: As part of its election coverage, The Aspen Times asked candidates for the three open seats on the Aspen School Board five questions. We will publish one response each day this week.Today’s question: In your view, what is the proper role of a school board member concerning the oversight of the school district staff in the performance of its administrative duties, both in terms of major capital projects and the day-to-day school operations?Ernie FyrwaldThe school board role should be policy governance. The board should not be involved in micromanaging day-to-day operations. Evaluating the school district staff’s performance with guidelines and support should also be the role of the school board. Major capital projects would fall under the same umbrella. Bob LangleyNone. I see the school board as the representative of the ownership group of the community. I think the role for the board is to articulate the overarching policy and philosophy desired by our local community. The board hires those individuals who are most capable of facilitating and realizing those goals. These professionals are responsible for maintaining oversight and discipline of teachers, staff and students. The same with major capital projects. The board, collectively and individually, is charged with identifying and empowering the experts to achieve the ends expressed by the board and supported by the local community.Elizabeth ParkerThe Aspen School Board operates under the policy governance model. Under this philosophy, the superintendent oversees day-to-day school operations, which are carried out in accordance with general policies that have been established by the board, and the board oversees the superintendent. I agree with this framework, since it allows the board to focus on the overall goals for the students and enables the superintendent, principals and teachers, who are the educational experts, to determine how to implement the goals. With respect to major capital projects, the board is ultimately responsible for the success of the projects and would need to be vigilant with respect to budget and schedule. I would recommend that the day-to-day oversight be delegated to the superintendent and an owner’s representative who is a construction expert and is hired by the board. Charla BelinskiBoard members are exactly that – board members. We are not faculty or staff, nor are we trained as such and therefore should not take on a role of operations. Our role should be to direct policy, determine the direction and goals of the district, and serve as a link between the community and the school district. The one exception is the superintendent, who is accountable to the board and to whom we rely on for leadership and expertise.Andrew KoleThe current school board operates under the excellent system of policy governance. To explain it, I will utilize a sports analogy. In football, the owners are our voters, the general manager is our superintendent, the assistant coaches are our administration and teaching staff, and the players are our students. Under policy governance, the school board sets certain executive limitations on the superintendent, specifically what is not acceptable. The board then decides on the ends (goals or results) it wants the student population to reach. The ends policies are then monitored by the board. The key to success under this system is an understanding of how it works, providing good direction, and then holding the superintendent accountable for the ends. Without strict accountability, the entire system crumbles.In respect to capital projects, fiscal responsibility and hiring the right people to oversee a capital project are imperative. A little common sense also doesn’t hurt.