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What is a school board and what does it do?

Today, school board members represent the interests of two million Illinois public school children. The Illinois Constitution grants boards of education wide latitude in governing their school districts, subject to state laws and regulations.

Perhaps the most important job of a school board is to hire a superintendent. Through its written policies, the board directs and empowers the superintendent to function as chief executive officer in managing all aspects of district operations. The board evaluates the superintendent’s work and holds that person accountable for district performance and compliance with federal, state, and board policy.

Because a school board is an elected governmental body, it can take action only by majority vote at a public meeting. The individual board member has no authority other than the right to cast a vote at such a meeting. The purpose of a school board meeting is to transact the legal business of the school district through discussion and voting among the members. Effective boards engage in an ongoing two-way conversation through the use of public forums, surveys, citizens committees, and other engagement tools to determine the community’s aspirations for its schools and students.

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