What it means to serve on the school board

Mike Carney
Mike Carney

The first time I was elected to be the president of the USD 453 school board, it was essential to receive guidance as to my role and expectations for this position. I was given a handbook at that time and I continue to reference it from time to time. It changes as society changes but these initial tenets have influenced my decisions as a board member and hopefully influence you as a voter.

It is important for voters in Leavenworth to understand what being a board member really means as suggested by the Kansas Association of School Boards. KASB acknowledged that the development of the Presidents Handbook was with the support of the Ohio School Boards Association and Alabama Association of School Boards based on their similar documents. 

Thirty critical requirements for school board membership for effective results were presented as follows:

Board unity

Subordinate personal interests.

Adhere to the policy-making and legislative functions of the board.

Accept and support majority decisions of the board.

Identify self with board policies and actions.

Refuse to speak or act on school matters independent of the board.


Suspend judgment until the facts are available.

Help identify problems.

Have the ability to determine satisfactory solutions to problems.

Devote time outside of board meetings as board business requires.

Be willing to accept ideas from others.

Have enthusiastic interest in the welfare of children.

Executive function

Understand the desirability to delegate administrative responsibility to the superintendent.

Support the superintendent in his or her authorized functions.

Encourage teamwork between the superintendent and the board.

Recognize problems and conditions that are of executive concern.

Staff and group relationships

Have the ability to speak effectively in public.

Believe firmly in democratic process and in the right of all groups to be heard.

Work tactfully and sympathetically with teacher groups.

Understand how groups think and act.

Assist others in working effectively.

Have mature social poise.

Personal relationships

Be willing to work with fellow board members in spite of personality differences .

Display both tact and firmness in relationships with individuals.

Treat patrons and teachers fairly and ethically.

Foster harmonious relationships.

Courageous action

Be able to weather criticism.

Maintain firm convictions.

Be willing to take sides in controversies.

Share responsibilities for board decisions.

So after you read these and reflect on them you will understand that there are those who are running for elective office for not only the school board but also the Leavenworth City Commission that have an agenda. That agenda is politically motivated and inherently wrong as city commissions and school boards are meant to be non-partisan. Potential candidates appear to be puppets of elected officials who need to focus on their responsibilities rather than engineering their own selfish desires.

As I have said before, I am proud of what I have accomplished as a team player in benefiting the children, teachers and staff and the taxpayers of USD 453 Leavenworth. I look forward to personal debates and public forums that may be presented, and contrary to what has been suggested, I will provide nothing but truths and facts.

Michael E. Carney is a member of the Leavenworth USD 453 Board of Education.