Meeting eyes roles of board, superintendent

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Dozens of citizens attended the meeting on Aug. 8 evening at the Dorchester Career and Technology Center. After the presentation, a question-and-answer session took place.

CAMBRIDGE — Dozens of local citizens turned out Aug. 8 at Dorchester Career and Technology Center, to hear a presentation by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE). The meeting was moderated by MABE Executive Director Francis Glendening and Director of Board Development Molly Young.

Present at the meeting, which included a question-and-answer session, were members of the local board and Superintendent Dave Bromwell. Local citizens shared their views of what makes an effective board and superintendent, as well as learning the roles of both.

The meeting was arranged at the request of local citizen Theresa Stafford. Questions on the respective roles and responsibilities of public education leaders – as well as citizens – surfaced during the tenure of previous Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell.

Who can do what; who is the boss; and who is responsible for progress or difficulties were some of the issues covered on Thursday.

President of the Dorchester Board of Education Glenn Bramble said, “The school board and the State of Maryland are very complex, when it comes to what you can and what you can’t do…With that in mind, that’s why I ended up arranging this meeting.”

“I want to commend both the superintendent and the board for having this tonight,” Ms. Glendening said. “Because, quite frankly, there’s a lot of confusion among folks about what in the world does the board do, what does the superintendent do, and how should they work together.”

What it boils down to, Ms. Young said, is the board does the “What,” while the superintendent handles the “How.”

General functions
Material from MABE distributed to the audience delineated the general functions of a board and superintendent.

The board governs the district, hires the superintendent, establishes expectations, evaluates self and the superintendent.

• Represents public education and serves as a liaison between the schools and community.
• Elected policy-making body and is required by law to establish rules to govern the schools and the students
• Recruits and hires the superintendent, establishes and approves contract, gives direction and evaluates through written goals
• Invests the superintendent with those powers and duties, may legally delegate in accordance with board policy and state or federal laws
• Requires professional leadership from the superintendent
• Approves a planning process

The superintendent advises the board, is the executive of the district, and is the board’s only employee.
• Serves as the chief executive officer of the board and is responsible to the board for implementing board policies and carrying out its direction
• Administers the district in accordance with board polices and guidelines, state and federal requirements
• Delegates authority to other staff members but at all times has final responsibility
• Provides educational leadership to board staff, students and community
• Responsible for the overall operation of the schools
• Recommends to the board the district organization structure and reports the needs of the district to the board
• Tracks national and state educational developments, and reports these to the board
• Participates with appropriate professional associations and development opportunities

During the discussion portion of the meeting, ideas were shared on how the board and superintendent could best function. “I would like to see our board become more visible” at community events, Ms. Stafford said.

Mr. Bromwell said he will continue working to be accessible to the public – in fact, he said, he has already met with many citizens since taking over on July 1.

“It’s all about communication,” Mr. Bromwell said. “I don’t know any other way, other than to meet with the constituents…They have awesome ideas.”

“I’m concerned with every student’s success, and that includes the six kids who graduated last night, who made it, because of the people in the community,” he said. “That’s what it’s about.”

“I think that’s the best part of our Dorchester County, that I’ve loved forever, and why I never left. We care about our community, and do need to know about all the parts of it,” Mr. Bromwell said. “Shouldn’t I be excited about meeting with our constituents? I know I am.”

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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