Welcome to


The Art of

School Boarding





Jim Burgett



What Every

School Board Member

Needs to Know






“All things considered, school governance is either the driving force or primary obstacle for the advancement of a school district. Jim Burgett masterfully describes it as the Art of School Boarding and goes to great lengths to lay out the requisite responsibilities of an exemplary board member. This very understandable book provides excellent insights for any person that is or works with a school board member.”


 Brent Clark, Executive Director, Illinois Association of School Administrators



This book is for anyone who sits at the school board table—rookies, seasoned veterans, superintendents, and administrators. For the newly elected, reading it should be their first assignment before they accept appointment—even better, before they seek election!


Jim Burgett’s fifth K-12 book, The Art of School Boarding, is a straightforward, common sense, jargon-free book that tells what present or future board members must know. Why would school boarders seek this responsible yoke? Just ask them, why are they still on the school board. “There’s nothing else I’d rather do…” is what you usually hear. This book tells why.


“School Boarding” is much more an art than a science. Boards have their own purpose, means, personality, process, and protocol. So these pages discuss the basics of boardsmanship, the foundational principles of school governance, and the role of the board, the board members, and the administration. It explains ethical expectations and Codes of Conduct, how to handle community concerns, relationship-building, and finances and curriculum. It also includes dozens of case studies from top K-12 leaders and board participants. (See selected book extracts below…)




Jim Burgett’s new book explains how a

select group of citizens can

profoundly and permanently

change the lives

of their community and every kid in it…



Jim Burgett has taught and served as principal and superintendent at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. He was twice named administrator of the year by his peers, and is a frequent keynoter, workshop leader, academy presenter, and educational consultant nationwide to school administrators, teachers, board members, businesses, and institutions. Burgett’s earlier books are Teachers Change Lives 24/7, Finding Middle Ground in K-12 Education (with Brian Schwartz), and What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know and The Perfect School (with Max McGee and Jim Rosborg)—if interested, see more of those book details. As you can imagine, Jim has served on lots of boards! 



Table of Contents


1. Boarding Basics, 11

What Does a Board Member Do?

How Much Time Is Involved?

What Are the Pros and Cons of Boarding?


2. Why Does Anyone Want to Board? 17

Know Why You Want to Serve

The School Boarding Questionnaire


3. The Foundational Principles of School

Governance, 21

The Board Clarifies the Purpose

The Board Connects with the Community

The Board as Employer

The Board as Delegator

The Board as Monitor

Fundamental Boarding Responsibilities


4. Board Roles and Superintendent Roles, 35

What Does the Board Do?

What Does the Superintendent Do?

What Is the Relationship?


5. Boarding Code of Conduct, 41

Formal Codes

Common Sense Codes


6. Know the Chain of Command, 47

Memorize the Organizational Chart

Direct Others to the Process


7. Learn the Art of Receiving and

    Responding to Complaints, 51

Catching the Complaint

Throwing the Complaint


8. Never Forget Who Comes First, 59

Rethink Your Reasons

Analyze Your Actions

Stabilize Your Center


9. Money Matters, 63

Understand Your Role with Money

Know the Importance of Financial Stability


10. Programs and Growth, 73

Understand the Fundamentals of Schooling

Understand Growth


11. Relationships, 81


12. School Boarding at its Best, 99

Characteristics of an Exemplary Board Member

Your Legacy    


13. Expert Advice, 115


14. Taking Care of You, 137


15. The Ride, 159



What others are saying:


“Great guide for board members and superintendents to stay focused on the mission of the school.”

Jim L. King, Ed.D., Executive Director,  Missouri Association

of Secondary School Principals


“If you are or want to be a good school board member this book is priority one reading.”

Darell Belm, past winner of IllinoisOutstanding School

Board President Award



Still curious?







The Art of

School Boarding


Jim Burgett






















[* CONTACT US for more information about, quantity discounts, and shipping choices]



Ten selected extracts from the book:



* Being a member of a board of education is one of the most important jobs that a person can hold, and it should be reserved for people who have the courage, the fortitude, and the de­sire to make a difference.


* I’m writing this book because it needs to be written. It is in­tended to serve as a guide, a primer, a companion, a training manual, a motivational tool, and a down-to-earth conversation starter about a job that is always, for those involved, a life-chang­ing event.


* I think school boards in general are doing a superb job, de­spite the fact that much of that is done “by the seat of their pants.” And much of that is because too many of the members just don’t know any better. And some don’t care.


* You see, some folks run for the school board without under­standing both its importance and its complexity. Some, once elected, simply don’t get it. And some lose their vigor and vision. So maybe a straightforward, common sense, jargon-free book like this can help all of the board members become essen­tial components of a crucial process for helping kids. Perhaps it can provide a shared starting point for boards of education work­ing as cohesive teams, knowing their purpose, rolling up their collective sleeves, and never losing focus while making a true difference. Helping school boards “board” in a positive, effective, and meaningful manner, then, is the goal of this book, the very reason for its existence.


* This book contains the kind of information that board mem­bers, particularly beginners or others considering joining, should know, like being a member of a board of education is an act of noble and selfless public service.


* There are no board of education members who don’t face diffi­cult decisions, votes, or issues. Nor any who haven’t had to de­fend his or her decisions many times. This is a job that often includes some degree of conflict.


* This is not a textbook. It has no footnotes, nor many statis­tics. It comes from me (who sat through thousands of hours of school board meetings), mentors, and colleagues with a cen­tury-plus of school board experience… The format is casual, like a conversation.


* School boarding isn’t a science—I taught science. Yes, there are some rules, procedures, and recommended guidelines. What makes it an art (as in The Art of School Boarding) is that at the core what we most need to share is thoughtfulness, tact, and the process (really the art) of building relationships.


* From the minute you are elected or appointed a school board member you hold a position of public authority. Your vote always counts. You become responsible for huge sums of money, the steward­ship of property, and the employment and welfare of many hu­man beings. Essentially, you hold the personal livelihood of people in the power of your vote. And not only the individual, but his/her family too.


* Can it be rewarding to be a school board member? You bet. Consider the rewards—permanent ones, each growing with every kid from day one in kindergarten to gradua­tion day from high school, and spin-offs all the days that follow.



(Here are 20 more extracts…)



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