Government often seems very large and far away, and the public’s ability to influence educational policy may seem minimal. But the school board, which consists entirely of elected local people, is responsible for maintaining the system’s day-to-day functioning, making it a very tangible way to affect a child’s education.
The board’s primary responsibility is hiring and evaluating the superintendent of schools, who oversees all aspects of the school system. In a way, it’s reminiscent of Asheville’s form of government, in which City Council sets policy and the city manager carries it out, manages the staff and alerts Council members to pressing issues.
The superintendent recommends agenda items for school board meetings, which the board either approves or rejects. Board members can also vote to add items to the agenda, but this rarely happens; the superintendent’s job is to implement whatever decisions the board makes, including hiring and firing staff.
Another key aspect of the school board’s responsibility is money: prepping the budget according to state policies and making funding recommendations to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. The school board itself receives no direct funding: It all comes from local, state or federal sources. And the local money, in particular, plays a key role in keeping the system functional (see chart, “What County Funding Buys”).