School Board Recognition Month

  •  Wednesday, January 29, 2020

    The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

    January is School Board recognition month, and each January we are pleased to take the opportunity to reflect on and honor the Trustees of our Board of Education, their commitment to the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the extraordinary service they so tirelessly give.

    When asked, most individuals aren’t really sure exactly what school board members do, yet most in the community understand that Trustees have important roles as leaders in the community.

    Trustees of the Board of Education give many, many hours each week and do the thankless work involved in serving at the local level. Facing many of the toughest challenges that we face in our Ann Arbor community, Trustees take on the responsibility for governing the education of our children in the Ann Arbor community. First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education and children are not a line item on the school board’s agenda – students are the critical mission of the daily work of the Trustees.

    In short, the Board of Education is responsible for: employing the superintendent, developing and adopting policies, curriculum and the budget, overseeing facilities issues, and approving collective bargaining agreements. And yet, the effective governance of a school district involves so much more at every level, over their days of their service.

    History of School Boards in the United States

    In 1826, Massachusetts formally established the system of school committees by requiring each town to elect a separate school committee to have the ‘general charge and superintendence’ of all the public schools of the town. Over time, this model spread to the rest of the nation, ensuring that local citizens would have a direct voice in the development and governance of their public schools (source: National School Boards Association).

    These selfless individuals, who today are our neighbors and colleagues, are individuals who show extraordinary dedication to the children, teachers and staff, to the parents and community of our local Ann Arbor Public Schools; they embody an unwavering commitment and care for the success of each and every student and school. Trustees are not driven by a ‘single’ agenda; they serve all children and have the well being of the District in heart and mind at all times.
    Shared from the National School Board Association, Trustees believe public education is America’s most vital institution. It is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children deserve equal access to an education which encourages them to reach their potential.
    In pursuit of these beliefs, our Trustees continue to lead the local and national conversation about public education, advocate for public policies that ensure all students everywhere have access to an excellent public education where they live, create a better understanding of the importance of school boards and the benefits of local governance, and enhance the effectiveness of school boards.
    90% of U.S. children attend a public school, and today, more than 90,000 locally elected officials govern over 13,600 local school districts serving more than 50 million public school students.

    Trustees tirelessly do the ‘good’ work on behalf of all our children.

    Our Ann Arbor Public School Board of Trustees understand the importance of an excellent school district as a cornerstone of a successful community and they focus their work in advocating for the students of our Ann Arbor Public Schools; they listen to constituents, collect and relay information, and make difficult decisions in order to improve public education in Ann Arbor. Recent research, from the National School Boards Association, highlights that effective school boards have a significant impact on student achievement in their local school districts. School boards are entrusted to watch over the education for the children in their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.

    Trustees are community leaders committed to what is right for all our children.

    Too often, folks may quickly criticize the decisions of a school board without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions and the nuance of the many factors they must weigh in making the tough decisions they face. Many hours are spent in committee meetings, meetings with stakeholders, meetings with the Superintendent, and at the Board table to ensure sound, fact-based decisions are made to ensure the long-term strength of the District. Trustees prioritize student achievement and equity, access and opportunity for ALL of the students of the AAPS as well as the sustainability of the many rich opportunities our District provides. These dedicated men and women continue to make the tough decisions necessary to grow and strengthen our school district. School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.

    Trustees are courageous leaders and sound decision makers who take their responsibility seriously.

    We cherish the name ‘Trustee’ in describing the position of service that members of our Board of Education hold – they are entrusted by members of our local community with the Governance of public education in the Ann Arbor Public Schools community.

    As Superintendent, I along with the entire Ann Arbor Public Schools team and community want to share our gratitude - thank you for the work you do. We thank your children and families for the time they have sacrificed with you so that you could be in service to all our community’s children. We wish you the joy and the reward of selfless service.

    I and our AAPS team are proud to be part of such an organization and to serve alongside this outstanding, knowledgeable, and committed team of volunteers at the helm.

    I encourage all of us in the Ann Arbor community to reach out and thank our Board Trustees for their continued commitment to moving our District forward to be the best it can be for our students, our teachers and staff, our parents and Ann Arbor community.

    Therefore, on this 29th day of January, 2020, we say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to:

    • Trustee Susan Baskett, 2003
    • Trustee Jeff Gaynor, 2017
    • Trustee Bryan Johnson, 2019
    • Trustee Jessica Kelly, 2016
    • Trustee Rebecca Lazarus, 2019
    • Trustee Simone Lightfoot, 2010

    Thank you, we appreciate you, and the service you so generously give to the 18,500 students, teachers and staff, parents and to our Ann Arbor community.