American education » Board of education

Published: 30-03-2011, 09:26

Board of education

The elected or appointed group with responsibility for establishing policies for and supervising schools within its jurisdictional area. Most states have two types of boards of education, a state board and a local board.


Depending upon the state, a state board of education (or board of regents, in some states) may have responsibility for all public school education in the state, or for all schools of a certain type, such as primary and secondary academic schools, vocational education or higher education. Board size varies widely, with some members serving ex officio (the governor, for example) and the others by appointment or general election. Depending on the provisions of the state constitution and the powers of the state legislature and governor, a state board may have partial or total policymaking powers over state education, along with the power to appoint the state superintendent of schools or the head of the state department of education and to adopt the budget and personnel policies for the state department of education. State board members often represent the state in educational affairs involving the federal government.


As in the case of state boards of education, the authority of local boards of education depends on the state constitution and powers delegated to them by state authorities. In general, however, local school boards are the agents of the state in their district and they determine educational policies and budgets for their districts within the framework of state education policies. They also establish the school calendar and hire and fire and set salary schedules for the school district superintendent, school administrators, teachers and school staffs. In some states, they have the power to impose taxes on district residents to raise funds for schools. More than 95% of the school boards in the United States are elected by local residents. Most boards whose members are appointed are in major cities and in the South. Some major cities also have a city school board to serve as an intermediary between local district boards and the state board.
Qualifications for election or appointment to school boards are usually minimal. Some states fail even to require literacy to serve, while others insist on a minimum education, taxpayer status, district residency, minimum age, and good character or parenthood.
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