New Members on Board
Trustee Turnover Can Be a Challenge—and an Opportunity
by Teresa Flores
From the Top
With May school board elections right
around the corner, I felt it might be a good
time to talk about board member turnover.
You now know who is running, who is not
seeking reelection, and who you hope will
be in that seat in June.
This can be a difficult time for board
members whose seats are not up for election this year. Every year, we lose good
board members who have brought value
and commitment to their boards, and we
wonder who will follow them and what
they will bring to the board table.
While we may have preconceived notions about the candidates, candidates also
have preconceived notions about the existing board. This is a time to be impartial
and open-minded. Putting your support
behind a specific candidate may lead to
problems down the road. If a candidate
knows that you do not support him or her
joining the team, how do you change that
if this person is elected to the board?
Candidates have many different reasons for running for the board. Some may
be valid; others may be tied to personal
agendas. Either way, once elected, it is up
to the board to welcome them, train them,
and include them.
Once during my tenure on the board,
we had a candidate who ran on a personal
agenda over some discipline that his son
received that he did not think was fair.
This candidate was elected and came onto
the board with the perception that the rest
of us were not fair, as well, and that we did
not make impartial decisions.
At about the third meeting, as we
were assembling for closed session, he
looked around the room and stated, “You
know, you people aren’t so bad after all.”
His perception of us before he was elected
had totally changed after he got to know
us better and became familiar with how
our decisions were made based on the data
and information that we were provided.
As new members join your board,
there are many opportunities available to
continue to move the district forward. Re-
member, no one is born knowing how to
be a school board member. It is a learned
experience. Be willing to teach your new
board member by both your words and
your actions. Provide a mentor to the new
member. If your schedule allows, set up a
time to visit one on one—maybe a lunch
or a soda at a local restaurant. Take the
time to try to build the relationship.
Everyone has strengths of some kind.
Work together to allow your new board
member the opportunity to use his or her
strengths to benefit the entire board.
Showing New Members the Ropes
For those serving as board presidents,
there are some legal requirements, as well,
As you go over continuing education
requirements, share how your board meets
those requirements and what specific
conferences you might attend. Attending
as a group will also help with building
the relationship. Help new trustees with
suggestions as to which sessions might be
most beneficial by pointing out the first-
year board member topics, as well as those
that are most pertinent to the challenges
you are currently facing in your district.
Allowing Fresh Ideas
New board members may bring fresh
ideas and new perspectives to your district.
Most will be totally overwhelmed when
they begin to see all that is involved in
making decisions and determining policy
for the district. Help them to understand
the differences between oversight and
micro-management. It is part of our re-
sponsibility as tenured board members to
groom those who will come after us.
Make yourself available and approach-
able to help where you can. Agree to dis-
agree while working together respectfully.
Lastly, always keep the most important
task in the forefront—and that is educating
and doing what is best for the students. By
doing this, you may become a highly func-
tional board working together to achieve
the goals you have set for your students and
your district. Your board “personality” will
filter through the superintendent, admin-
istrators, and the rest of the staff, hopefully
resulting in successful student performance.
Best of luck to you all as you bring
your new members on board. I look forward to meeting them and hearing of your
Teresa Flores, an Ingleside ISD trustee, is
2017–18 president of TASB.