HUNT COLUMN: Tracking training of school board

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Did you know that school board members, like many other professionals and workers who have jobs in which they’re responsible for the well-being of others, must participate in continuing education every year? In a rapidly changing world, people who want to do their best must stay abreast of developments in their fields.

First year board members are required to have 15 contact hours of training, six more than veteran members have to earn each year.

Those first six hours of training introduce the novices to the finer points of what board members should and should not do. Then everyone must participate in three hours of annual whole group governance training together as well as an additional individual workshop in an area of interest. Anyone serving in the role of board chair must complete six hours of further leadership development.

Most of us have just finished three days of the annual conference of the Georgia School Board Association in Atlanta. It wasn’t held last year because of the pandemic, and this year it was smaller than usual for the same reason, so a couple of us attended in person and others logged in virtually. GSBA does a great job of providing resources for our state school boards.

I participated in the “Legal Issues” workshop to obtain my required six contact hours. We heard from lawyers who specialize in school and education law. We reviewed case law on matters of current interest to educators as well as new legislation passed by the General Assembly. Topics included freedom of speech for students and teachers, public participation in board meetings, contract law, fair dismissal, parental leave, censorship, and Title IX.

On the other two days of the convention, we heard from Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia Teacher of the Year Cherie Bonder Dennis, experts in building foundations in literacy for early learners, GSBA’s student advisory council, and Malcolm Mitchell, whose recent visit to LaGrange I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. In addition, a few school systems from around the state led mini-sessions to share innovative programs that they have undertaken. All in all, a good conference – and this was one – helps us remember why we wanted to take on this job in the first place and inspires us to keep on keeping on. I loved it when Ms. Dennis said, “Believe in public education. It is not perfect.

It is behemoth. It is not agile. But the past 18 months have demonstrated that none of these realities diminish its very real contributions to our society’s well-being.” She challenged those who are cynical about public schools to actually take the time to recognize the excellence that happens in them constantly, “the mountains that have been moved and are still being moved” by all the members of the team that make school happen every day for every kind of child.