HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — The Piedmont Triad is home to two of the largest school systems in the state. The people who run those districts are elected by you.

Boards of Education get their power from the General Assembly. School boards create policies and then hire a superintendent who implements them. 

However, state and county governments dictate a lot, like how much money school systems have and what must be taught. School boards then work within those constraints to make their own local decisions.

“They are the big picture people, where they set the direction and the foundational pieces of the district. They set the vision, the mission, the goals of the district and then they adopt policies that support the vision mission and goals so that it can come to life,” Ramona Powers with the North Carolina School Boards Association says.

For example, teacher pay. The state sets the base salary, but the local school board can vote to award bonuses and incentives to teachers and staff.

With curriculum, the state determines the standards, subjects and student benchmarks. The specifics of teaching them are left to local school boards.

For example: teaching children reading. State End of Grade standardized tests measure how a student performs, but the school board can decide the computer program teachers use in the classroom. That’s also true for controversial subjects like sex ed.

These are important issues that affect our children and that’s why you need to be educated when voting for school board candidates.

“It’s not the individual board member, but it’s the board that makes those decisions about what’s happening in the district. So you want to be sure that you have those candidates that you’re looking for those people who are focusing on that student achievement,” Powers said.

School board elections are partisan for Guilford County and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, but in Alamance/Burlington, Randolph and Davidson counties they’re non-partisan.