Polehanki Bill to Require Training for School Board Members

LANSING — Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D–Livonia) today introduced legislation that would require school board members to complete training on the basic responsibilities and legal parameters of serving on a board of education.

“School board members have enormous impact on children’s lives. They set policy, hire and evaluate superintendents, and manage the finances of our school districts,” Sen. Polehanki said. “It is in the best interest of our students, and the future of our districts, that they are properly prepared to carry out their duties and correctly follow Michigan laws.”

Senate Bill 540 would require all board members to complete five basic training courses within two years of being elected or appointed to a board, covering the topics of conflicts of interest, labor relations, education law, finance, and board governance. The courses must be approved by the Michigan Department of Education and they may be taken in-person or online. The courses will likely take under 20 hours to complete in total.

School districts whose board members take these courses would be reimbursed for the cost of the courses. After two years of school board service, each school district would be required to post whether board members had completed the mandatory training.

A 2013 study by Dr. Michael Ford found that school boards play a significant role when it comes to the success of their students such that improving school board governance is a legitimate approach to improving academic achievement for children.

“Providing education for school board members serves to encourage them to set sound educational policies while having a comprehensive understanding of their personal roles and responsibilities,” Sen. Polehanki said. “This legislation is a good, first step toward the continuing work of making our schools some of the best in the nation.”

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