Frequently Asked Questions
Local school boards (also known as boards of education, school committees, school directors, or trustees) are elected—or occasionally appointed—to be leaders and champions for public education in their states and communities.
School boards, elected or appointed by their communities, represent the community’s beliefs and values.The most important responsibility of school boards is to work with their communities to improve student achievement in their local public schools. School boards derive their power and authority from the state. In compliance with state and federal laws, school boards establish policies and regulations by which their local schools are governed.
Your school board is responsible for:
- employing the superintendent;
- developing and adopting policies, curriculum, and the budget;
- overseeing facilities issues; and
- adopting collective bargaining agreements.
School board members are citizens of the community in which they live and have a passion for public educaiton. They are as diverse as the democracy they serve. School board members, especially those in large districts, are more representative of the communities they serve than state legislatures and members of Congress. Boards include women (44 percent are female) at more than twice the rate of the U.S. House of Representatives (about 17 percent) and the U.S. Senate (about 20 percent). In large districts, 21.8 percent of school boards members surveyed were African-American and six percent were Latino.
School board members:
- are well-educated
- 75 percent of board members have a bachelor’s degree or higher
- describe their political views as ideologically moderate
- only 17.6 percent have ever been affiliated with a teachers union
- Two-thirds see an urgent need to improve student achievement
- 90 percent are concerned about an overly narrow focus on achievement
As in the City of Athens, 75 percent of small-district school board members from across the country do not receive payment for their work. They are simply volunteers with a desire to serve.
- are well-educated
In the City of Athens, seven school board members are appointed by the Athens City Council. These individuals must be residents of Athens and may not be serving on the city council at the time of their appointment. The city council reviews applications and selects members of the board that have a genuine interest in and dedication to public education, a willingness to give time and effort to the work, a capacity for understanding people, and the ability to work cooperatively with others. Board members serve 5 year terms.
Regular Meetings The board has the authority to hold as many regularly scheduled meetings as the board deems necessary. Generally, the board will conduct at least one regularly scheduled meeting per month. Minutes of meetings shall reflect board action and considerations and when approved shall bear the signature of the board’s secretary and president. Names of members present and absent shall be recorded at each meeting. Time and Place of Regular Meetings All regular meetings of the board shall be held in the Central Office Board Room, 455 US Highway 31 North, Athens, AL 35611, unless otherwise directed by the board. The president will start all meetings promptly at the appointed hour, absent unusual circumstances.
Generally, the board conducts regular meetings on the third Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The board may designate another time and place to hold a meeting. The public shall be provided with notice of the dates of all regular and special meetings, as may be provided by law. All meetings shall be open to the public except where otherwise provided by law. Special Meetings Special meetings of the board shall be held at such place and time as the duties and business of the board may require. Such meetings shall be called by the board’s president. A written request for a special meeting by a majority of the board shall make it mandatory for the president to call a special meeting of the board. Further, a specific request by the superintendent requires that a special meeting be called. The notice for the special meeting shall be simultaneously conveyed to all board members and the superintendent, together with a statement of the reason for the call or request and the matters to be addressed at the meeting. The meeting shall be set as soon as practicable, taking into account the reasonable availability of board members and the superintendent, the urgency of the matters to be addressed, and the necessity to provide public notice of the meeting as provided by law.
Procedures The president, or in his/her absence, the vice-president, shall preside at all meetings of the board. In the absence of both, the superintendent shall preside until the board elects an acting president. Board meetings will be generally conducted in accordance with the most recently revised edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, provided that adherence to the formalities of the Rules of Order may be reasonably relaxed in order to facilitate conduct of board business. Deviations from or errors in executing parliamentary procedure shall not invalidate board actions or decisions that are otherwise consistent with the intent of the board.
No motion or resolution shall be declared adopted without the concurrence of a majority of the entire board. A majority of the whole board as used in this section means a majority of the board as then constituted at the time the motion or resolution is adopted.
Board meetings are open to the public, allowing anyone to attend. There are times when the board must convene into an "Executive Session" which is closed to the public.
The circumstances for conducting an executive session are as follows:
(1) Pending or Threatened Litigation
The governmental body must be advised by an attorney licensed in Alabama that an executive session is authorized for the planned discussion.
(2) Criminal Investigations or Revealing Undercover Agents
The governmental body must be advised from one of the following that the discussion would “imperil effective law enforcement” if disclosed outside of an executive session.
A law enforcement officer with arrest powers,
A district attorney or assistant district attorney, or
The attorney general or an assistant attorney general
(3) Matters of Commerce or Trade
The governmental body must be advised that, if not held in executive session, the discussions: (a) Would have a detrimental effect upon the competitive position of a party to the negotiations or the location, retention, expansion, or upgrading of a public employee or business entity in the area or (b) Would disclose information protected by the Alabama Trade Secrets Act. This advice must be provided by a person who is involved in the recruitment or retention effort or who has personal knowledge that the discussion will involve information protected by the Alabama Trade Secrets Act.
(4) Public Employee Negotiation Strategy
The governmental body must be advised by a person representing the interests of the governmental body in the negotiations that the discussions would have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the governmental body if disclosed outside of an executive session. Statement on Reconvening “Open” Portion of the Meeting Ala. Code § 36-25A-7(b)(4) requires that, prior to calling the executive session to order, the chairperson shall state on the record whether the governmental body will reconvene after the executive session and, if so, the approximate time the body expects to reconvene.
The superintendent or designee shall prepare or cause to be prepared an agenda for regular board meetings. The agenda should be received by each board member at least forty-eight hours prior to the time of the board meeting; although it may be modified prior to the meeting at the superintendent’s discretion. Items of business may be suggested by board members, administrative staff, employees, school patrons, or any citizen.
In order to suggest an agenda item to the superintendent, the suggestion must be submitted in written form and received in the office of the superintendent at least four (4) days prior to the meeting date. Items of business that are not on the agenda may not be added from the floor for discussion except at the discretion of the president or by a majority vote of board members present. The order of business at meetings will be according to the agenda adopted by the board.
All delegations or individuals who wish to appear before the board shall submit their written requests to the superintendent at least four days prior to the meeting date, stating what matters they wish to take up with the board and the approximate time such matter should consume at the meeting. Such items will normally be included on the agenda of the meeting at which the delegation or individual wishes to appear before the board. Each delegation appearing before the board shall select one person in advance as its spokesperson. The president of the board may recognize persons at the board meetings for the purpose of introducing such persons, and allowing such persons to speak on an agenda item. However, a person is not entitled to speak on issues that are not on the agenda for that meeting. A time limit may be imposed at the discretion of the board president.