Dear ASBA Members,
For more than 70 years, the Arizona School Boards Association has been Arizona’s champion for local control and community-based decision making. Our allegiance is to Arizona and our commitment is unwavering for a simple reason: When local decision-making thrives and governance is strong, open and effective, students win. That means Arizona wins.
Just as it has been for decades, our job each day here at ASBA is to support Arizona school boards and the individuals who serve on them as they do the important work of engaging with and listening to all members of their communities and taking action that meets local needs and leads to excellent outcomes for their students.
What does that mean for an association of school boards like ours in today’s world – and, most importantly, in today’s Arizona?
In large part, it means the same thing it has meant from our humble beginnings. First and foremost, ASBA is a service organization dedicated to meeting the ongoing, operational needs of Arizona school district governing boards. It’s why we were founded by a group of school board members from throughout the state back in 1949, and it remains at our core today.
Policy services and our Academy of Board Development program are valued examples of this. ASBA model policies provide district boards the foundation necessary to operate a school system in compliance with state and federal laws and court and regulatory action. It’s our privilege – and, we think, our responsibility – to offer access to this service to our members. When school boards come together to share the cost of necessary services like these through an association like ours, more precious dollars can be put towards supporting student success.
School boards have unique requirements and responsibilities. A multitude of educational opportunities, offered through the Academy of Board Development, enable board members to select and attend workshops, conferences and events at which they can build knowledge, skills and understanding in areas that are important to them as they support their communities through board service.
Advocating for a legislative, regulatory and legal environment in which school boards have the autonomy and resources to carry out their vision for their schools and communities is another important area of our work, and it has been from the start. In 1951, Dr. Clarence Gunter of Globe saw the promise of an association of school boards “to get proper legislation passed through the Legislature for the benefit of the children.” We’ve been doing that ever since, directed by a process that is governed completely by school board members from throughout Arizona. Today, we are focused on the pressing issues of teacher and staff shortages, capital facilities, special education, transportation, and accountability, just to name a few. Those are the issues that unite us and make joining together as an association of school boards so impactful.
From the start of the association and to this day, we also have been advocating for the institution of the school board itself and the unpaid elected officials who serve their communities on school boards. It’s no secret that school boards have been faced with decisions in recent years that have been tougher than they ever could have imagined, and community involvement has increased as a result. The Arizona School Boards Association supports and encourages public participation from all viewpoints in public meetings. The public has a right to transparency and participation, in accordance with the laws of our state. Board members, like all elected officials, have a right to personal safety and security. Ensuring boards can continue to receive community input critical to their decision-making in a safe and respectful environment is of paramount importance for the long-term health of our republic, generally, and the institution of school boards, specifically.
That brings us back to you, our members. At ASBA, we make it a practice of saying, “ASBA is your association.” In all of this work, we never lose sight of the fact that we are an organization governed by locally elected school board members from every county in Arizona and operated for the benefit of school boards throughout Arizona.
Like our board of directors, ASBA is Arizona, through and through. We are elementary, unified and high school districts. We are CTEDs. We are rural, remote, suburban and urban and all those areas in between. We are 1,100 school board members strong. We are parents, grandparents and those without children. ASBA members are working, retired, all income levels, all political affiliations, all races and ethnicities, and all in service to the more than 1 million students in our K-12 Arizona public school classrooms.
School boards are perhaps the oldest incarnation of elected governance in our state, dating to the days when local residents banded together to provide for the education of their children. They have served as a success story of local cooperation and partnership between government and the community for a common purpose since before statehood. It is often said, the government closest to the people governs best. It doesn’t get any closer to your neighbors than the school board. Over the past year, you have been faced with unimaginably difficult decisions and for that Arizona owes you its gratitude. You certainly have the gratitude of this association and its staff.
We are your association, and we are here to serve you.
Your ASBA Team