Frequently Asked Questions
Of Chesterfield County School Board Members
(Last updated Jan. 13, 2020)
The Constitution of Virginia provides that the General Assembly establish a system of free public elementary and secondary schools for all children of school age throughout the state, and seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained. The General Assembly has required that such an educational system be maintained and administered by the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, local school division Superintendents and local School Boards.
The Constitution of Virginia vests the supervision of schools in each school division in a local School Board. As prescribed by the Charter of the County of Chesterfield, the School Board consists of one member elected from each of the five magisterial districts of the County, each member serving a four-year, non-staggered term.
The following are frequently asked questions that School Board members often hear regarding their service to our community. This document will be updated frequently as questions arise.
SCHOOL BOARD ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
What are the roles of a School Board?
As defined by School Board Police 1020, The School Board considers the following to be its major responsibilities:
- To establish policies and plans for the division;
- To select and evaluate the Superintendent;
- To determine instructional studies to be pursued;
- To provide safe and suitable schools for effective teaching and learning;
- To care for, manage, and control the school property of the County;
- To provide for the preparation and the adoption of the annual budget;
- To act upon the recommendations of the Superintendent in all matters of policy, personnel actions, salary schedules, and other matters pertaining to the welfare of the schools;
- To review reports from the Superintendent concerning the status and needs of the schools;
- To review the effectiveness of the schools, using an accountability system that includes the monitoring of key measures;
- To maintain effective communication with the community, and its elected and appointed officials, concerning the progress and needs of the schools;
- To provide for a system of pupil transportation;
- To provide for continuing and professional development of staff and School Board members;
- To obtain adequate funding for school programs and facilities;
- To encourage private as well as public support for the school system;
- To approve the mission statement, goals and objectives;
- To review and approve long-range capital improvement plans;
- To establish school attendance zones;
- To ensure compliance with the Standards of Quality, including the Standards for Accrediting Public Schools and the Standards of Learning referenced in the Standards of Quality, and other state and federal mandates;
- To set policies to aid in recruitment and retention of qualified teachers;
- To support, promote and model for students and staff the core values of integrity, equity, teamwork and ingenuity;
- To, at least annually, survey the division to identify critical shortages of teachers and administrative personnel by subject matter, and report such critical shortages to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and to the Virginia Retirement System; however, the School Board may request the Superintendent to conduct such survey and submit such report to the School Board, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Virginia Retirement System; and
- To ensure that the public schools within the division are registered with the Department of State Police to receive electronic notice of the registration or re-registration of any sex offender within the division pursuant to Va. Code § 9.1-914.
What is generally considered the most important duty a School Board has?
Hiring the Superintendent.
What is the difference between the School Board (policy) and the Superintendent (administrative)?
The board is a policymaking body. Its policies set out the goals and objectives for the school system. The administrator’s responsibility is to see that these goals and objectives are implemented efficiently and effectively.
Who has decision-making authority on a School Board?
Board members only hold “collective” authority when they meet and act as a board, not when they act or speak as individuals. It takes three “yes” votes for a board action to be approved.
I don’t like my child’s teacher or principal. Can they School Board fire them?
No. Staff members are appointed by the Superintendent with School Board approval. Consistent with state statutes, the Superintendent shall assign, transfer, suspend or recommend for promotion or dismissal of any employee of the school division.
Who should a parent go to if he or she has a complaint or compliment about his or her child’s school?
- School level director or Constituent Services
- School Board
What is a School Board’s responsibility in the area of curriculum development and evaluation?
The School Board’s responsibility is to determine instructional studies to be pursued.
The Chesterfield County Public Schools’ curriculum sets forth the division’s expectations for student learning in each subject area, and constitutes the knowledge and skills that the division’s instructional staff shall teach and assess. The curriculum shall reflect not only the School Board’s and community’s educational vision, mission and goals, but also all requirements set forth in state law and in State Board of Education regulations.
All curricula, as well as substantive changes thereto, shall be in writing and approved by the School Board prior to implementation in schools. he Superintendent shall recommend new curriculum and substantive changes to the curriculum for School Board consideration and also be responsible for disseminating approved curricula and providing professional development to prepare instructional staff to effectively teach it.
The Superintendent shall ensure that all students have access to a rigorous curriculum. In addition, the Superintendent shall ensure that the taught curriculum in each subject area and/or course at all grade levels is consistent from school to school across the division. Accordingly, instructional staff shall teach and assess the School Board’s approved curriculum, and principals shall ensure that the approved curriculum is not only taught, but that it is taught in an effective manner.
SCHOOL BOARD POLICY DEVELOPMENT
What does School Board policy mean, and how does the School Board get this authority?
The School Board is charged by the Constitution of Virginia and elected by the citizens of Chesterfield County with governing Chesterfield County Public Schools. The School Board’s leadership and governance are exercised through the promulgation of policy. The power to enact policy cannot be delegated to an employee or agent such as the Superintendent or a single member of the School Board.
Policy is a basic statement of the intent of the School Board, which creates rights and responsibilities for the conduct of the division’s business. Being of a dynamic nature, policies are subject to revision by the School Board.
Regulation is the manner or method of implementation of policy by the Superintendent and staff, subject to change as conditions and/or circumstances may dictate.
Policies shall be developed and presented to the School Board evidencing the consideration given to the views of the division’s community. The final authority for adoption rests solely with the School Board.
Unless otherwise provided, when policies are adopted, altered or replaced, the new or revised policy shall become effective upon adoption.
Before taking action on any policy proposal, the School Board shall seek the recommendation of the Superintendent. The recommendations of the Superintendent may be based upon the outcomes of studies and upon the judgment of the professional staff and study committees. To ensure School Board consideration of policy impact, the Superintendent shall impanel a policy review committee to advise the Superintendent and the School Board of potential impact and possible policy options. The School Board Chair shall appoint no more than two School Board members to serve on this committee. Any significant change in policy shall receive legal review prior to School Board action.
SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS
When are School Board meetings held?
The time and date for holding regular meetings shall be fixed at the annual organizational meeting in January. Meetings are typically held monthly, an afternoon work session followed by an evening business meeting.
The time, date, and location of a regular meeting may be changed by action of the School Board chair provided that every member is notified and due notice is given to the public in accordance with law. All School Board meetings are open to the public, except as otherwise permitted by law.
Why does the School Board meeting in a closed session?
Closed meetings may be held by the School Board or any committee thereof only in accordance with Virginia law. Topics may include personnel matters, student discipline matters, acquisition or disposition or real estate, legal guidance, public safety and contract negotiations.
A complete list of closed session purposes can be found here: https://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/chesterfield/Board.nsf/files/ANHJR24E5E02/$file/1080%20REVISED%206-13-17.pdf.
How is a board meeting agenda developed?
The preparation of the agenda shall be the responsibility of the School Board Chairman with the assistance of the Superintendent. Any member of the School Board may submit items for inclusion on the proposed agenda.
How are School Board votes held?
The School Board transacts all business at School Board meetings. The School Board does not vote by secret or written ballot. However, nothing prohibits separately contacting the membership, or any part thereof, of the School Board for the purpose of ascertaining a member’s position with respect to the transaction of public business, whether such contact is done in person, by telephone or by electronic communication, provided the contact is done on a basis that does not constitute a meeting under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
Can the public participate in School Board meetings?
The School Board encourages public participation at regular meetings. The order of business of any regular meeting shall include opportunities for the public to address the School Board as hereinafter provided. Speakers are encouraged to submit their comments in writing in advance. Comments must be germane to the services or policies of the school division.
How can the public follow School Board business?
Business meetings are broadcast live on TV and the Internet. Work sessions are videotaped and replayed on TV.
Archived videos of work sessions and business meetings can be found online at https://mychesterfieldschools.com/school-board/.
How can I sign up to participate in School Board meetings?
Persons wishing to speak during the Public Comment Period are asked to notify the School Board Clerk’s Office by 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting and to provide the specific subject of the schools-related comments to be offered.
Why do you limit speakers to 3 minutes?
The policy related to public comment at School Board meetings was revised several years ago to streamline public comment and better align school division policy with county government practice.
Public comment on action items is now before School Board members vote on an item, allowing representatives to hear public input prior to voting. A second public comment period, for items not on the agenda for action, is at the end of the meeting.
SCHOOL BOARD OPERATIONS
Why do you have several million left in your budget at the end of the fiscal year?
Per state law, our school division is not able to overspend its budget. Therefore, there must be funds left over at the end of a fiscal year.
For the past decade, unspent funds have been used to support future years’ budgets. (This is not a good budgeting practice.) If this money was not available, the school division would have had to reduce services.
It is also possible that funds have been encumbered but not spent at the end of the year because the school division has not yet received the purchased services.