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NHSBA applauds National School Boards Association's initiative to restore the role of local school boards and community governance

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) recently announced that Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act in the Senate. This legislation focuses on restoring authority and flexibility to local school boards in determining how best to meet the needs and concerns of their students.

Historically, the primary responsibility for public education has properly resided with the states which, in turn, have delegated substantial authority to local educational agencies, which are governed by locally elected school boards.

As the school district's governing body, local school boards establish the district's mission and goals, organization and structure, budget and priorities, program, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and other services relating to student health and safety, allowing for the essential day-to-day operations of schools.

However, in recent years, many new regulations, rules, grant conditions, or directive guidance materials, have been promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education, and State Education Departments. These regulations and rules have negatively impacted the flexibility and control that school boards have traditionally implemented at the local level.

This alarming trend prompted NHSBA, at two recent Annual Delegate Assemblies, to adopt a resolution that opposes "any branch of NH government adopting or supporting curriculum standards that usurp state's rights and de-emphasize and limit local control of curriculum and school board oversight." (2011). This was affirmed again in 2014, when NHSBA adopted a resolution supporting "local boards and their responsibility for establishing the structure, accountability, advocacy and delivery of instruction within their local district..."

The proposed federal legislation is focused on providing the House and Senate committees that oversee education with better information regarding the local impact of the U.S. Department of Education's activities. It will also underscore the role of Congress as the federal policy-maker in education and through its representative function, to ensure that the decisions that are made at the federal level will best support the needs and goals of local school systems and the communities they serve as they meet the federal interest and goals in education.

In recent years, both at the federal and state levels, there has been precious little consideration given to community governance through elected school boards. The NSBA "bill" is aimed at stopping these federal and state over-reach actions.

For more information, contact NHSBA Executive Director, Theodore Comstock.

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