School board: overlooked but powerful

The policies that the school board approves directly impacts students; but what do students actually know about their school board

Lara Bruner. Lindsay Love. Barbar Mozdzen. Jason Olive. Joel Wirth. Maybe these names are familiar. Maybe they are not familiar. Either way, these five individuals impact how every school in the Chandler Unified School District runs. Therefore, they impact the daily lives of Perry students. 

The school board is responsible for setting a vision and mission for the district, establishing a structure and nurturing the environment for students, providing support through adequate resources, ensuring that schools are well run, and providing a platform for ambassadors to advocate for students. 

The board members also have a code of ethics, and they may have specific responsibilities such as hiring district superintendent, providing budget guidance, approving and monitoring the budget, setting salaries, approving purchases, establishing and approving policies, approving curriculum materials, and monitoring progress to name a few. But how much do students really know about the school board?

In a survey of 41 students, only 11 students said they ever watched a board meeting. When asked if they had ever attended a board meeting, 100% said no. And 82.9% of students said they did not know who any of the CUSD board members are. 

Students do not appear to take a great interest in the school board, unless it has a direct impact or application on their life, such as COVID. “Obviously, the school board decisions affect [students] at the end of the day: how we’re able to do things, field trips, and school hours. So I would say that it is always important to know what’s going on in your area so you stay informed,” said Principal Heather Patterson. 

Students have a responsibility to be aware of the school board decisions, because eventually they will become the citizens that elect members to the school board. “The school board absolutely impacts students. As students get older and closer to voting age, it’s important that they understand how school boards are chosen and what they control,” said Honors Chemistry and Science Research teacher Karen Hutchinson. 

Often after a big policy change, people in the community turn to the principal of their respective school for clarification. “People will always reach out to the principal to get clarification and help them understand what a decision means. I live in this community, and I’m totally okay with that. It’s part of my role as the principal to speak and be amongst the community, not only with [students],” said Patterson. 

In fact, the school board changed quarantine and isolation policy to reduce remote learning on Jan. 3rd. To learn more about the recent quarantine/isolation guideline changes, click here

To visit the CUSD80 website, click here. To watch the school board meetings, click here