By PHYLLIS SNODGRASS
President, San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce
It’s that time again – the time when candidates run for school board trustee for the San Marcos CISD. Why should the Chamber of Commerce care? Because school board trustees put into motion actions which ultimately lead to the success or failure of our schools. They are the governing body that the Superintendent of Schools reports to. If education is truly the number one economic development tool of our community– then school board trustees are absolutely critical to the future success of our community.
The quality and equity of education is a priority concern of educators, parents, business and community leaders and public officials in San Marcos. To ensure high quality education, the citizens of San Marcos must identify and elect Board Trustees who are qualified to meet the many difficult challenges facing the district. In an effort to identify and define the attributes that a school Board Trustee needs to meet these challenges, more than sixty leaders from 30 community organizations and many businesses came together in 1993, then again in 2007, to develop an Attribute Profile of an Effective School Board Trustee. Based on national best practices, regional experience, and the expertise of these leaders, this Attribute Profile was created.
The following organizations participated in the collaborative development of and/or endorsed this profile:
• Austin Area Research Organization (AARO)
• Austin Area Urban League
• Austin Council of PTA’s
• Austin Independent School District
• Austin Interfaith
• Austin Partners in Education
• Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce
• Capital Metro
• City of Austin Mayor’s Office
• Community Action Network
• E3 Alliance
• Executive Women International
• Greater Austin Chamber
• Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
• Junior League
• Leadership Austin
• League of Women Voters in Austin
• Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA)
• Ready By 21 Coalition
• Southwest Key
• Texas Business & Education Coalition (TBEC)
• The Austin Project
• The University of Texas at Austin
• United Way – Capital Area
• Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas
• Community, Civic and Business Leaders
• Other regional school district representatives
This representative and very knowledgeable group has created a brochure to help communities in Central Texas choose the very best possible school board trustees. The brochure details the qualities highlighted by this broad range of community partners as the most important attributes of a successful school board trustee.
An Effective School Board Trustee Should:
• Be a visionary, goal-directed, and willing to take risks. Be willing to set and have experience setting policy priorities.
• Have proven and appropriate organizational, fiscal and leadership skills suitable for the size and complexity of the school district.
• Demonstrate commitment to equity and access to quality education and world-class standards of achievement for all students.
• Demonstrate the ability to build consensus and to achieve collaborative outcomes.
• Value diversity and equity as criteria for decision-making.
• Be willing to set an example and establish accountability at all levels for achievement of all students, by understanding how to identify relevant data and use it appropriately.
• Practice good and efficient governance, understanding the role of policy-maker versus administrator.
• Represent the population served by our district and be a strong advocate for public education.
• Understand the need for alignment from early childhood through college and career success and across education providers to create a continuum of success for students.
• Exhibit personal qualities that embody a positive role model for our children and our community.
School board elections are not the place to resolve personal grievances against the schools (or district) nor should they be used merely as a stepping stone for future public office. Our schools deserve quality candidates that possess the above attributes and are willing to bring their knowledge and skills to the table to benefit the students of San Marcos CISD. There is a huge time commitment involved in serving as a school board trustee and each and every one of us should be thankful to our current trustees for the dedicated service that they provide to our community. A full list of questions that should be asked of every candidate for school board trustee can be found on the chamber’s website at www.sanmarcostexas.com. Our students deserve the best, and it is up to us to support the candidates that will best meet the needs of those students.