John Jarpe: School board members should be commended for hard work

Published 5:41 pm Thursday, January 9, 2014

Some of the most important elected officials are members of local school boards. They get up and go to work every day, just like almost all adult Americans. But for many extra hours, these citizens serve the students of our public schools.

In our part of Michigan, boards of education meet on Monday nights. While other folks are enjoying family time or TV on that first day of the work week, board members are focused on the important decisions of school districts.

There is no profile that fits an “average” board member. Many have children still in school, but not all of them do. Some work in the public sector, others for private businesses. Most importantly, they do not act alone. The best boards, like ours here in Brandywine, work well together with mutual respect for each other and a common goal of providing the best education possible for our students.

More than 4,000 people are willing to be board members across the state of Michigan. They do all this for our kids.

Especially during hard economic times, boards have to make extremely tough decisions. What’s even tougher is, they sometimes get the opposite of thanks for making those difficult choices — there are times when people disagree with the decisions of boards.

So, with a tough volunteer job for no money, why would people serve on boards of education?

I have known many board members throughout my career in education, and I think they have a few basic reasons for serving:

• They are proud of the communities they live in and want the best for their community;

• They want the next generation to have the best possible education;

• They care enough about the future of this country to know that education makes a difference.

Next time you see a board member, shake hands and give thanks for all they do for our children here in Brandywine, and other communities in southwest Michigan.


John Jarpe is superintendent of Brandywine Community Schools.