CUBE 21 Annual Conference in Atlanta closed with the conference’s final Town Hall: Can Boards Harness the Economic Power of our Education System to Empower Our Community.
The town hall was moderated by Yolonda Fountain Henderson, a member of the CUBE Steering Committee and school board member of Missouri’s Jennings School District.
The panelists were Micah Ali, member of the CUBE Steering Committee and school board member of California’s Compton Unified School District; Curtis Valentine, member of the CUBE Steering Committee and school board member of Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools; and Dr. Steve Gallon, chair of the CUBE Steering Committee and school board member of Florida’s Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
“The U.S. Public Education system is the largest employer in the country with over 6.6 million employees,” Dr. Gallon said in his introduction. “While funding varies by state and district, it’s worth noting that in 2016, total expenditures for K-12 public schools in the United States amounted to approximately $739 billion.”
Why is it important for school board members to understand their roles in the budget process of the school district, Henderson asked the panelists.
Most of the district budget is a fixed cost, Ali said. Investing in the community can be done through strategic policies. “We have to share the wealth,” he said.
His role as a school board member includes him being a fiduciary leader as well as an educational leader, Gallon said. The current economic disparities mean that school leaders have an obligation to dispense justice. “There cannot be social justice if there’s not economic justice,” he said.
Curtis encouraged school leaders to support their communities by hiring alumni. “We are all we need— if we look inward and we support the very student we have already trained.”
The panelists agreed that school leaders must consider the past, the present, and the future when they look at district spending.
Said Ali: “Think differently in your role as a school board member.”