Recruiting School Board Candidates is an Art Form You can Master

Debbie Stair

By Debbie Stair, Board Development Manager

DashBoard, May 4, 2016

Over the years, I have been involved in the recruitment and development of a large number of volunteer leaders—some to school board service, some to other organizations. As a matter of fact, one of my final actions during my 15+ years of board service was to recruit the individual who would ultimately take my place on the Huron Valley Schools Board of Education.

When I was asked to share my perspective about recruitment of board candidates, I gave it some real thought and asked myself how I actually went about it. Upon reflection, I realized it was much more an art than a science. I looked for different skill sets depending upon the leadership position, the organization’s status and timing. So how would I provide guidance? I would look for the commonalities. Three characteristics came to mind.

A Real Belief in the Power of Teamwork

An individual elected to a board of education cannot accomplish anything on their own. They need the support of their colleagues to get things done. That also means they need to support their colleagues on other issues, even when the vote doesn’t go their way. Teamwork is a process of give and take and a willingness to compromise at times. It is through this commitment to work together that wonderful things can happen for the district’s children.

A Good Understanding of Their Role and Their Obligation to be the Best They can be

It is often challenging for a new board member to adapt to their governance role, especially if they are used to being involved in the day-to-day management in their professional lives. Taking seriously their responsibility to seek out professional learning opportunities as well as keeping abreast of current educational issues are two factors critical to their success.

A Thoughtful and Intentional Approach to Decisionmaking

Board members must possess the ability to represent their entire community; not individual special interest groups. They must be open to setting opinions aside, considering all of the information presented on a topic, seeking additional information if necessary, and then coming to a decision based on what is best for the district as a whole; even when that decision may be unpopular.

Do you know anyone with these characteristics? If so, maybe it’s time to invite them into the sometimes challenging, but always rewarding world of board service.

The Get on Board campaign is underway and we need your help! Resources have been posted on the MASB website and the list will continue to grow up until the filing deadline of July 26. There are materials on how to recruit, what makes an effective board member and even videos to help spark interest. Our Candidate’s Guide to School Board Elections also is available for purchase in our Online Store. Please encourage those you think would be a good fit for school board service to Get on Board!

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