A lot of people have heard of the school board, but don’t understand what it actually does. Here is an inside look at the workings and responsibilities of the school board.
Some common misconceptions:

The budget is established by the school board

The school board is in charge of the curriculum

The school board hires teachers

Although these assumptions have a kernel of truth, they are not one hundred percent true. The purpose of the school board (a.k.a. Board of School Commissioners) is to provide oversight for finance, curriculum, and other operations of the district, hiring and evaluation the superintendent, and adopting the budget to be put before the voters.

The school board adopts the budget, presented to them by the superintendent and his staff, which consists of the school administrators, the finance director, etc. The Board is consulted during budget development, and if they have any issues with it, they have the power to ask the superintendent to make changes before it is placed on the ballet on town meeting day.

The school board is also in charge of creating policies for the district. There are many policies that are actually state law, and cannot be changed by the school board. For example; the policies around bullying and harassment are state law.

The school board is in charge of employment contracts with the Teacher’s Union, but they do not hire the individual teachers themselves.

The school board does not set the curriculum, but they ensure that it meets the needs of all students.

The Board works like so: there are 12 members elected by the public, including the chair of the board, who is then elected by the other board members. The 12 members are each on one committee although most are on two or three. The are five committees to choose from: curriculum, finance, diversity and equity, governance and policy and advocacy, and infrastructure and technology. The full board meets every month on the second Tuesday, while committees hold separate meetings once a month as well. These meetings, by law, must be announced and open to the public. One place the meetings are posted is the Burlington School district website: (www.bsdvt.org).

The finance committee is in charge of providing oversight on financial operations of the district.

The committee of diversity and equity makes sure that the schools meet the need of all students regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation etc.

The committee of governance and policy and advocacy reviews policies.

The committee of infrastructure and technology deals with buildings in the school district and other capital expenditures; such as large building contracts.

The school board just adopted a budget for the coming school year at their January meeting. They are currently discussing a new governance model for the board. Also in discussion is a new disciplinary strategy called the restorative justice system. Superintendent.

Written by Maggie Barlow