Ironically—and perhaps uncomfortably for Geneva's seven Board of Education members—the annual "School Board Members Day" falls at a time when the board, educators and the community as a whole are still hoping to see the end of a sometimes bitter teacher-contract negotiation.
Nov. 15, 2012, is designated as School Board Members Day in Illinois, a time to show appreciation and to begin to better understand how school board members work together to provide leadership for schools.
District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler made a brief presentation at Monday's (Nov. 12) School Board meeting, and an announcement can be found in the meetings' agenda packet.
For the most part, Illinois' 6,000-plus school board members take on the responsibilty because they care deeply about the quality of education and the community. The elected position is not as "political" as some other units of local government, in the sense that board members don't represent a specific consituency or geographic segment of the community (wards for city council members or districts for county board members, for example) and school board positions aren't often seen as stepping stones for higher office.
School board members often spend hours at workshops and seminars, without compensation, to stay up-to-date on changing policies, state regulations, taxation and budget practices, mandated federal regulations, Open Meetings Act laws and state-of-the-art teaching and learning methods.
Their responsibilities are huge, including decisions that often affect the future success of thousands of young people and a budget that accounts for by far the largest portion of residential and commercial property-tax bills.
Of course, none of that service or sacrifice exempts school board members from criticism or the obligation to abide by the law or serve with integrity. Nor does it mean that their actions shouldn't be questioned or held accountable.
But it does mean their efforts merit appreciation, no matter where one stands on any particular issue.
In Geneva, the seven School Board members are Mark Grosso, Kelly Nowak, Matt Henry, Mike McCormick, Tim Moran, Mary Stith and Bill Wilson.
Geneva School District residents can show appreciation in many ways. One simple kindness is to post a comment here on Geneva Patch. Another is to send a note or e-mail to the Board of Education at Board@Geneva304.org.
Here are some excerpts from the School District 304 memo:
When it comes to selfless giving, school board members deserve a heartfelt “thank you” from everyone in the community ... because they represent so many different facets of their community. They are ordinary people and in their everyday lives they might be farmers or bankers, homemakers or doctors, truck drivers or professors, business owners or retirees.
But they all have one thing in common: an extraordinary dedication to public education. And we thank them for their untiring efforts.
Everyone knows that board members attend meetings, but those hours represent just a fraction of the actual time that they devote to leading their districts. They attend extracurricular events to support schools. They attend seminars to learn how to be better board members. And often they are involved in other community activities, representing themselves, their community and their district. Many of these school- and community-related activities take them away from time that could be spent with their own family.
More than any other public servant, school board members must listen to the voices of their community and then craft a vision, mission and goals for their district to accurately reflect those voices in the design. They must guard two of the community’s most precious resources — their children and their tax dollars — while they create the best educational environment possible with the money available.
Too often communities are quick to criticize school board members without really knowing all the details that went into their decisions. As a result, the efforts of school board members often go unrecognized and unrewarded.
Help us join with others from throughout Illinois to give a heartfelt “thank you” to the men and women who provide the grassroots governance for public schools. Make a special effort to tell each school board member his or her hard work has been noticed and is very much appreciated.
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