What Makes a Good Board Member?

An Effective School Board Member:



  • Has common sense
  • A sincere dedication to give every child a real chance for a good education.
  • Is an effective communicator
  • Is a consensus builder
  • Has been an active community participant
  • Recognizes the difference between governance and management

The Outstanding School Board Member

Personal Characteristics


  • Runs for the board to improve the quality of education.
  • Recognizes the importance of community service and exhibits a strong desire to “give back” to the community.
  • Believes strongly that every child can achieve and ask, “Is it good for kids?” when deliberating at board meetings.
  • Recognizes and respects the individual strengths and differences of each board member, and supports everyone’s right to freely express opinions.
  • Can disagree on issues and still maintain respect and trust for other board members and the superintendent.
  • Understands the need for confidentiality on issues-personnel, pending litigation, contracts-that can be discussed only during closed sessions.
  • Contributes to having board meetings operate in a dignified, professional manner in which everyone is treated with civility and respect.
  • Interacts with other board members and the superintendent in a positive, constructive, helpful manner.
  • Is motivated to serve on the board solely for the purpose of maintaining and improving the educational system for all children.
  • Is willing to serve at least two terms in the interests of stability.
  • Places high priority on encouraging other outstanding citizens to run for the school board.


Professional Characteristics


  • Understands the board’s proper role and resists attempts to micro manage.
  • Serves as liaison between the school system and community and shields the superintendent from undue political pressure.
  • Helps ensure that board meetings and other board work focus on improving student achievement.
  • Supports the board’s key role in policy, vision and goals, community engagement, budget adoption, and fiscal responsibility.
  • Understands that individual board members have no authority unless delegated by the board. Under state law, only a quorum of the board has authority to act and to make decisions at a duly called board meeting.


Adapted from Finding the Best
Cronin, Goodman and Zimmerman
American School Board Journal, March 2004