Q: What is the role of the Board of Directors? What is the role of the Superintendent?
Under Maine law, every school district is run by a Board of Directors. The Board is empowered and charged with setting the policies for the district, setting the budget for the district, and hiring a Superintendent to implement the Board’s policies and run the day-to-day operations of the schools. Together, the Board and Superintendent oversee the mission, vision, and values of the district.
The Board functions like the Board of Directors of a corporation, setting the educational goals of the district and evaluating the progress of the district and the performance of the Superintendent. The Superintendent functions like the chief executive officer or president of a corporation, making sure the schools are running properly and making satisfactory progress towards achieving the goals set by the Board. The Board evaluates the Superintendent’s performance each year; if the Board is dissatisfied with the Superintendent’s performance, then the Board can fire the Superintendent.
Only the Superintendent reports to the Board. All school staff, including the teachers, ultimately report to the Superintendent. Only the Superintendent can initiate the hiring and firing of staff; the Board can only review and approve or disapprove the Superintendent’s actions. Only the Superintendent can decide to delay or cancel school, assign duties to teachers and staff, and direct the maintenance of the school facilities; the Board does not make any of these operational decisions. The Board sets the policies and monitors the performance of the Superintendent in achieving the policies.
Of course, the Board and Superintendent must work together to enable the district to function well. The Superintendent advises the Board of developments in educational practices and the capabilities and limitations of the schools and staff. The Board communicates the needs and desires that define the policies of the district. Together, the Board and Superintendent enable the schools in the district to educate the children of the district by setting sound policies and effectively executing and reviewing those policies.
Q: Doesn’t the Board do what the public wants?
No. The Board is an independent body, charged with setting the policies for the district that the Board believes are best for the education of the district’s children. Of course, a well-functioning Board will pay close attention to the concerns and desires of the public, including balancing the needs and desires of the families and children of the district. But the final decision on any issue rests solely with the members of the Board.
Q: How do I get help resolving a problem?
The most effective way to resolve any problem is to deal first with the person closest to the problem who has authority to deal with the problem. If that person can’t resolve the problem, then seek the person having the next highest authority and continue until the problem is resolved. Since the Board has no power over the day-to-day operation of the schools, the Board is really the last resort if the problem is “inside” a school through the Board’s review of the Superintendent’s performance. On the other hand, if the problem is with the policies of the district, then you should contact a member of the Board for your community.
For example, if the problem involves a student, then first contact the student’s teacher. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, then contact the principal of the school. If the principal cannot resolve the issue, then you contact the assistant superintendent or the superintendent.
Problems involving the school facilities first should be first brought to the school principal. If the principal cannot resolve the issue, then you should contact the assistant superintendent or the superintendent.
Problems involving the buses first should be brought to the transportation director. If the principal cannot resolve the issue, then you should contact the assistant superintendent or the superintendent.
If you have contacted the superintendent and still cannot reach a resolution, then contact a Board member and ask that the issue be placed on the agenda for the next meeting, or come to the next meeting and raise your issue directly in the public input period. However, any issues regarding school personnel must be resolved in executive session.
Finally, please keep in mind that the Board can only take action in a public meeting and when a quorum of the Board is present. Board members have no power to act individually. Neither the Board nor its members can intercede with the superintendent on anyone’s behalf through private communications.
Contact Information is available on the district and school websites for each school and building.