BOE Candidates Question 1: The Role Of The BOE

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Glenn Elliott
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QUESTION 1: When you talk to prospective voters about what the Board of Education can–and cannot do–what do you tell them?

This is such an important question, because there are so many misconceptions. First, it’s important to understand that the authority of the Board of Education is as a decision making body, and not as individual board members. It’s a concept that those not familiar with how the BOE operates, or are new to the board, struggle with. In simple terms, although we all may have our own opinions, we can only take action on issues as a group.

All Board members are bound by the oath we take when sworn in, and by the Code of Ethics for School Board Members (School Ethics Commission 18A:12-24.1). To summarize the main points, School Board Members must:

  • Make decisions that are in the best interest of children in the District.
  • Make no personal promises or guarantees, or be influenced by partisan or special interests.
  • Perhaps most importantly, our role is to ensure that the schools are properly run, not to run them.

When I need to explain the role of a BOE member, the last point is usually how I summarize it, “ensure that the schools are properly run, not to run them”. Because in reality, the Board is responsible for only one employee, the Superintendent. So our role is most like that of a Board of Directors, with a CEO reporting to the Board as a whole.

On a more granular level, some of our responsibilities also include:

  • Hiring and negotiating with the Chief School Administrator
  • Contract negotiations with the VEA
  • Serving on committees and communicating with the Board and public.
  • Hear and vote on appeals from staff and parents
  • Understand and vote on all resolutions

On a personal note, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a Board member for over 12 years. In this time I’ve served as President, Vice President, served on all of our standing committees and several ad-hoc committees. I’ve advised superintendents and mentored new board members. I’ve been involved in all of the referendums and second questions over the last 15 years. This experience is an X-factor that can be difficult to quantify but has proven to be invaluable. It’s not easily replaced or compensated for with empty slogans

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].

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