WHAT IS A SCHOOL BOARD?
A school board is a legislative body of citizens called school directors who are elected locally by their fellow citizens and who serve as agents of the state legislature. Each board consists of nine members who serve four-year terms of office without pay.
School directors, although locally elected, are really state officials, co-partners with the legislature. They are designated by school law to administer the school system in each district.
Public education is fundamentally a state responsibility. A system of free public education is mandated under the state constitution, which states in Article II, Section 14: The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education... Constitutional recognition of the public schools as a legislative function is further found in Article IX, Section 10, in which a school district is described as a unit of local government.
Public education thus enjoys special status under the state constitution and is the only public service so mandated by the constitution.
To carry out this mandate, the General Assembly created school districts and school boards. It conferred broad legal powers to the local boards, making them autonomous in many of their operations. Therefore, the school board is a political subdivision of the state for the purpose of convenient administration of the schools.
The General Assembly created the State Board of Education, the Department of Education, the intermediate unit structure and other state agencies. These agencies administer the state laws that control the state's public education system. There are, therefore, several governing influences upon a board of school directors.
The School Laws of Pennsylvania is the primary compilation of the statutes enacted by the legislature having direct and pertinent reference to public education, its programs, its operation and its management. In addition, rules and regulation of the State Board, guidelines of the Department of Education, opinions and interpretations of the state attorney general and court decrees all influence local board operation.
Effective school boards concentrate their time and energy on determining what it is the schools should accomplish and developing policies to carry out these goals.
In Pennsylvania Public schools are a creation of the state constitution. Public schools are a responsibility of the General Assembly, the legislative branch of PA state government. School boards, created by the General Assembly, serve as local legislative bodies for the public schools within the framework of state laws. A school board's authority is applied through the collective decisions of the entire board acting as a governing body.
--PSBA website, http://www.psba.org/