State law defines the school board as “an elected body created according to the laws of the state to serve as the governing board…for the purpose of organizing, maintaining, and locating schools and for providing educational opportunities and services for all citizens residing within the school district.”
The Associated School Boards of South Dakota provides guidance to school boards regarding their role in school governance. According to ASBSD the school board has the functions of planning, policy making and evaluation of educational programs. The board decides the nature and extent of the instructional program; approves the employment of personnel; establishes personnel policy; adopts an annual budget; reviews monthly financial reports; adopts the school calendar; approves purchases; purchases school sites and adopts building plans. adopts a public relations policy; and evaluates the school program.
A joint publication of the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association, Roles and Relationships, delineates the specific responsibilities of school boards. Some of those responsibilities are as follows:
The board’s primary role is the establishment of policy.
Works with the superintendent and community to develop a vision for the schools.
Advocates on behalf of students and their schools and promotes the benefits of public education.
Supports the superintendent in all decisions that conform to board policy, other decisions made by the board, or recognized professional standards.
Provides policy on the effective management of complaints.
Provides for the periodic review of board policies.
Ensures board members understand that, under law, the school board acts as a board and that individual board members have no independent authority.
The National School Boards Association has adopted a code of ethics to guide school board members. The code of ethics includes statements regarding “supporting the highest level of education possible; making decisions in terms of the best interest of the educational welfare of children; recognition that it is not the school boards responsibility to run the schools, but to see that they are well run; refusing to represent special interests or partisan politics; supporting decisions made by the majority of the board; referring all complaints to the appropriate level; and observing state laws and regulations pertaining to public education. The superintendent of schools is the only employed staff member that reports directly to the school board.