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  • What does a school board do?

    On January 4th, a new Oakland school board was sworn in. 

    The most important thing to know about them is who gave them their job: Us.

    School boards are elected by the people, because it’s their job to make sure schools serve the people. That means community members. Parents. Us. 

    If the schools were a business, we’d be the stockholders. School boards exist so the schools are accountable to us. Each section of the city — called a district — elects its own board member.

    In Oakland, and in most places, the board has a few clear responsibilities. Ashley McBride lays them out in detail in Oaklandside, and GreatSchools has a good explainer too, but briefly, here they are:

    1. Hire and fire the superintendent. As Ashley notes, the state has at times taken over this responsibility.
    2. Set a vision and goals for where the district is going.
    3. Choose policies that will support that vision.
    4. Set and approve the budget for the district. The overall budget is more than a half-billion dollars a year.
    5. Involve the community.  

    Notice that last one. To do their jobs, school board members need to hear from us. Because they serve us.

    Let’s make sure they really do.

    You’ll find a list of school board members, and their emails, on the Oakland school district website. Shoot an email to your member and tell them your story and your aspirations for your child’s education.

    Not sure whose district you live in? Check this interactive map.