The Art of School Boarding:


What Every School Board Member Needs to Know


“All things considered, school governance is either the driving force or primary obstacle for the advancement of a school district. Jim Burgett masterfully describes it as the Art of School Boarding and goes to great lengths to lay out the requisite responsibilities of an exemplary board member. This very understandable book provides excellent insights for any person that is or works with a school board member.”

 Brent Clark, Executive Director, Illinois Association of School Administrators



This book is for anyone who sits at the school board table—rookies, seasoned veterans, superintendents, and administrators. For the newly elected, it should be their first assignment before they accept appointment—even better, before they seek election!


Being a school board member is not a political position nor one of royalty. It’s not the most highly esteemed office in the world. But it is a pure act of public service and nobility. No pay, tough issues, lots of controversy, and the future of your community and society in your hands. You’ll be asked to deal with tough decisions, finance, law, mandates, curriculum, athletics, the fine arts…


“School Boarding” is much more an art than a science. Boards have their own purpose, means, personality, process, and protocol. So these pages discuss the basics of boardsmanship, the foundational principles of school governance, and the role of the board, the board members, and the administration. It explains ethical expectations and Codes of Conduct, how to handle community concerns, your involvement with finances and curriculum, and building relationships. It also includes dozens of case studies from top K-12 leaders and board participants.


Jim Burgett’s fifth K-12 book, The Art of School Boarding, is a straightforward, common sense, jargon-free book that tells what present or future board mem­bers must know. Why would school boarders seek this responsible yoke? Just ask them, why are they still on the school board. “There’s nothing else I’d rather do…” is what you usually hear. This book tells why.




Jim Burgett’s new book explains how a select group of citizens can

profoundly and permanently

change the lives of their community and the kids in it…


Jim Burgett has taught and served as principal and superinten­dent at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. He was twice named administrator of the year by his peers, and is a frequent key­noter, workshop leader, acad­emy presenter, and educational consultant nationwide to school adminis­trators, teach­ers, board members, businesses, and insti­tu­tions. Burgett’s most recent book is The School Principal’s Toolbook (2014), and his earlier books are Teach­ers Change Lives 24/7, Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Educa­tion (with Brian Schwartz), and What Every Superinten­dent and Princi­pal Needs to Know and The Per­fect School (with Max McGee and Jim Rosborg). As you can imagine, Jim has served on lots of boards! 


Table of Contents


1. Boarding Basics, 11

What Does a Board Member Do?

How Much Time Is Involved?

What Are the Pros and Cons of Boarding?


2. Why Does Anyone Want to Board? 17

Know Why You Want to Serve

The School Boarding Questionnaire


3. The Foundational Principles of School

Governance, 21

The Board Clarifies the Purpose

The Board Connects with the Community

The Board as Employer

The Board as Delegator

The Board as Monitor

Fundamental Boarding Responsibilities


4. Board Roles and Superintendent Roles, 35

What Does the Board Do?

What Does the Superintendent Do?

What Is the Relationship?


5. Boarding Code of Conduct, 41

Formal Codes

Common Sense Codes


6. Know the Chain of Command, 47

Memorize the Organizational Chart

Direct Others to the Process


7. Learn the Art of Receiving and

Responding to Complaints, 51

Catching the Complaint

Throwing the Complaint


8. Never Forget Who Comes First, 59

Rethink Your Reasons

Analyze Your Actions

Stabilize Your Center


9. Money Matters, 63

Understand Your Role with Money

Know the Importance of Financial Stability


10. Programs and Growth, 73

Understand the Fundamentals of Schooling

Understand Growth


11. Relationships, 81


12. School Boarding at its Best, 99

Characteristics of an Exemplary Board Member

Your Legacy     


13. Expert Advice, 115


14. Taking Care of You, 137


15. The Ride, 159



What others are saying:


“Great guide for board members and superintendents to stay focused on the mission of the school.”

Jim L. King, Ed.D., Executive Director, Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals


“If you are or want to be a good school board member this book is priority one reading.”

Darell Belm, past winner of Illinois’ Outstanding School Board President Award





The Art of School Boarding


Jim Burgett




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