Ever wonder how the Ottawa Hills Board of Education fulfills its duties? And how it receives the advice and information it needs to make the best decisions to fulfill the district’s mission?
This overview explains the key roles and duties of our five-member Board (elected every other year to staggered four-year terms) as well as the public’s role in the governing process. So let’s start exploring. (Return to Board of Education website)
DUTIES AND FUNCTIONS
First things first: The Board does not manage district operations on a day-to-day basis. The responsibility for overseeing the current $16.9 million general fund budget and 140-person team of educators, administrators, and support staff belongs mostly to the Superintendent and his/her administrative team. The Treasurer also directly manages a two-person team and budget outside the duties of the Superintendent’s Office.
In fact, the Board only interviews and hires two employees: the Superintendent and the Treasurer. That is common practice across most of Ohio’s public school districts. All other employees are interviewed by the appropriate administrator; those staffing recommendations are then submitted to the Board for their consideration. The Board does approve all hires, but only directly makes two in Ottawa Hills.
Their other primary duties are adopting annual budgets, strategic plans, budget forecasts, and educational policies. The policies are needed to make sure the district is complying with all applicable state and federal regulations.
In other words, the Board sets the vision and broad guidelines for how the district is managed. It’s up to faculty and staff to get the work done.
Board of Education meetings occur twice a month starting at 4:30 p.m.: a special meeting earlier in the month on a Thursday (if needed) and then a regular meeting later in the month on a Tuesday. All are held in the Elementary School (Library or Community Room). All meetings are open to the public and all discussions are conducted in the open with the exception of executive sessions (see link below for more information on the Ohio’s Open Meetings Act). Meeting agendas and minutes (once approved) can be found on the Board’s website. Copies also can be requested from the Treasurer’s Office.
In Ottawa Hills, the Treasurer is responsible for recording and archiving of the minutes. The Board President runs the meeting; in his/her absence, the Board Vice President runs the meeting.
The Board receives an agenda and related materials several days before each meeting. Agenda topics vary by month and time of year, from approving new classes and student handbooks to approving capital expenses. Other seasonal agenda topics include adopting a yearly budget and a five-year financial forecast; approving all labor and employment contracts; approving international exchange students; and adopting applicable state and federal educational rules.
The agenda usually includes supporting material in the form of attachments that helps Board members decide what questions to ask as they discuss each issue. If it appears that an action (a vote, for example) has been taken “quickly” on an agenda item, it is likely because the item has been studied for several weeks prior (such as a second or third reading on adopting handbooks) or that their questions were asked and answered in advance of the meeting.
Board members are elected officials who devote many hours to their core duties and functions. Most also have children still in school as well as full-time jobs. Serving is an added commitment they undertake; they do so because they care about providing quality education in Ottawa Hills.
Your input helps them meet the district’s goals and mission. Therefore, each meeting includes time for public input. Hearing from parents, students, and other Village residents helps to keep the Board informed. You are, after all, their constituents.
Prior to the meeting, a sign-in sheet is available to identify yourself and the subject on which you’d like to speak. The Board President (or the presiding officer) uses the sign-in sheet to identify and call upon attendees who want to address the Board.
Before addressing the Board, a speaker must be recognized by the Board President (or the presiding officer) and preface their comments by stating their name, home address, and group affiliation (if and when appropriate). Each speaker is limited to five (5) minutes.
HOW TO ADDRESS A CONCERN
Audience participation provides citizens an opportunity to share thoughts on issues pertaining to the operation of the school district. That time on the agenda is not intended for having questions answered or concerns resolved on the spot. The best way to get answers to those types of questions and concerns is to first contact the appropriate building or district administrator. The Board also may refer a speaker to the Superintendent’s Office for further assistance.