Role of the school board.
Excerpt from an interview with:
LOUISE S. DYER by LINDA L. WEST
November 9, 1992
San Diego, California
What do you think the role is, the appropriate role of the school board?
It's to set policy. The only person we really hire is the superintendent or the
chancellor in our community college district — we call it the chancellor. We
[the board] set[s] the broad general policies, and then you try and influence
legislation of the state or be involved with it; that will improve the
education and work for getting the proper financial support from the state, and
then being kind of a good will ambassador in the community to explain education
to the people. But it isn't to get in and administer the district. That should
be left up to the superintendent or chancellor. And if you [the board] don't
[doesn't] like the job that's being done, then that's the person you get rid
of, you know. [Chuckling]
So those years on the school board involved some hard times, like it did all
over the country when the civil rights movement was beginning. And we had our
share, I guess, of problems, not real serious here, not like some cities. Then,
when I was teaching, it seemed like things went along pretty smoothly, and here
we could, if you needed more money, you could decide to raise the tax … you
know, property tax rates. And we had a good district and financially we were
And then when Prop. 13 came in, it meant again very definite changes. There
suddenly wasn't the money, you didn't have control over it, and yet the public
and the staff and faculty felt that you [the board] should be able to get all
this money and do all these things they wanted, and there simply wasn't money.
And you also then had to cut down on maintenance and building and things
because the money had to go into just education, which is, of course, where it
should go. But you also have to maintain equipment and you have to buy new
equipment. Some of the programs are expensive that they take, particularly so
many of the skills center type programs, and you have to keep up with changing
machinery and everything. So there have been changes in that way.
I think the other change is the realization by the boards that they have to be
more involved with the business community in involving them and working with
them to either have classes on their sites or have their employees come in. One
thing that we did that ended up being extremely controversial was establishing
a foundation, and our former chancellor Garland Peed, who was chancellor when I
was elected, and before that for several years, when I was elected in '81, that
is. His area, he had been business manager here briefly first, and his area —
it was really an expertise — was in the management and financial area. So we
set up a foundation patterned after those in the major colleges and
universities across the country.
Our first efforts were in teaching classes for the navy at the Naval Training
Center here, and gradually during the years I was on the board we were teaching
in all the major recruit centers for the navy, and many for the Marine Corps
and the army all over the country, and it was all done under the foundation.
Also, when we could no longer teach certain kinds of classes, one of the main
areas was in foreign languages, and [other] continuing ed. We had to
discontinue them [foreign languages in adult education]. Then the next year we
set up classes under the foundation to teach foreign language. That was
different, but here we'd been without any language classes and we needed it.
The salary schedule and the various things were a little bit different and it
caused controversy, of course, out there, but we could no longer [according to
state law] teach the kind of classes that we had been teaching, and we felt it
was better to have one kind than nothing at all. So things changed because of
laws and it meant that board members increasingly were being called upon to
answer to these various things, being dragged into, you know, controversy,
where they really were setting policy, I feel, appropriately.