Patrick Hampton / July 12, 2021

So, What Does a School Board Member Do?

There are key things that parents can influence if they become involved.

Upon my recent announcement as a candidate for Hamilton County School Board here in Tennessee, I felt the need to use my platform to educate parents about what it even means to take on such an important role. Perhaps it will empower more parents to do the same.

While I’m amazed and impressed by the parents attending school board meetings and fighting off Critical Race Theory, I want them to know how much power these elected officials actually have.

This won’t be my first foray in the election arena. I ran for District 5 of the local school board, only losing by a few hundred votes. Upon that loss, I made a new commitment to educate families about the responsibilities of our local education system. Now as a District 9 candidate, I’m using my platform to educate parents who aren’t fully aware of who’s in charge and what they should expect from our leaders. My hope is that my message will lead to more informed voters and more control in the hands of the people — all to the benefit of our children.

First, a school board member is obligated to manage the superintendent. It’s vital that these members use their power to hold the superintendent accountable on the goals he/she set for the district as a whole. I believe in allowing administrators to do what the district hired them to do. Each administrator knows the dynamics and needs of their school. As I stood on this in my last campaign, I believe planning sessions should be holistic by including ideas and perspectives from an ideologically diverse group of employees.

Second, school board members vote on agendas and budgets, keeping their thumb on how funds are allocated. This also includes voting on the reintroduction of vocational schools and charter school education — two areas of learning that I firmly believe are investments in our community rather than questionable liabilities that come with unknowns about how a child will become a competent citizen.

Third, these elected officials are involved in the creation of school policy. But this needs to be consistent across the board, not applied conditionally. A sound school board member can look into incongruences in policies and work to ensure that a school climate is one in which all students can achieve.

Fourth and final, school board members can work together to fight corruption in the education system. By enforcing transparency and an openness to parental involvement and input, we can take the holistic approaches needed to benefit all students, not hyperfocusing on one initiative or agenda while leaving others behind. Additionally, ensuring that the school system is acting in a fiscally responsible manner will allow room and opportunity to address other overlooked areas to the betterment of our schools.

As a father of four, a mentor, and a concerned citizen who is running for public office, I’ve witnessed the successes and challenges in the public, private, and charter school sectors of education. This leaves me with an unbiased perspective that considers what’s best for students first and foremost. My hope is that, through my example, more parents are encouraged and empowered to lead in an arena that will literally and directly influence our nation’s future. This is important enough for me to put my name in the hat without reservation or regret. I’ve done it once and am proud to do it again. Because no community is too small to represent, as our small towns, cities, and districts are the sum of a whole country. That is something we can’t forget.

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