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  • Writer's pictureTom Heinen

Is a School District a business?

When we look at the amount of money that is invested in all of the "support" programs, nonprofit organizations and companies marketing their curriculum to school districts, it is difficult to argue education is not a huge business. It only takes a few minutes to find out how large the education industry is; start at the school district website. Look for acronyms and do an internet search of those acronyms, review the web site of these programs and you will find even more acronyms that link to more nonprofit organizations selling their products to schools. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry. I'll let you decide, is a school district a business...I believe it is.

Let me share some other parallels. The district has employees, it has buildings, financial budgets and delivers a service (teaching our children). The district is accountable to the quality in delivering the service to its shareholders (the parents). The School Board is elected (the Board of Directors) by the shareholder (the public/parents) and is accountable to represent the parents and their values. The superintend is (the CEO) responsible for leading all district functions and implementing the policies established by the School Board.

If the School District is in part, and arguable, a business, why do we tend to elect individuals with a teaching background, or an educational degree to lead a business? Shouldn’t we elect some business leaders to balance board decision, policies, and to ensure employees are supported and have a voice, and so funding and budgets are managed by people with experience in getting the best value for every dollar spend on learning. Again, I am not suggesting we only elect individuals with a business background on the School Board; it needs to be balanced, and aligned to the demographics and values of the community.

In the upcoming School Board election consider a change, look for candidates that align with your values, principles and less about if they have an education background.

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