Richardson Independent School District has the best-trained school board in the state. If trustee training results in better governance, then RISD may well be the best-run district in Texas. Let’s examine this bold claim.

By law, school board trustees are required to take 16 hours of certified training their rookie year and eight more hours each subsequent year. Also by law, we must publicly report the number of training hours for each board member.

The RISD board has been commended by the State Board of Education for the last three years for completing all continuing education requirements. Only 8 percent of boards throughout the state achieve this level of training.

Annually, the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) conducts as intensive yearlong training program, entitled TASB Leadership. TASB Leadership consists of five weekends of two or three full-day training sessions, plus an outside team project. Trustees attending all sessions and completing some additional requirements outside of class earn the Master Trustee designation.

RISD is the only district in the state with a trustee attending every TASB Leadership class for the last seven years. As a result, RISD has the most Master Trustees in office.

I speak from experience when I say that good trustees are made, not born. Learning to work cooperatively in the glare of public scrutiny and open meetings is a learned art.

We serve on a team of eight: seven trustees and the superintendent. No trustee has any unilateral power beyond our ability to persuade a majority of members of the rightness of our views.

Over the last few years we have created many vehicles for community input on key RISD issues such as the school calendar, budget and bond allocations, safety and student discipline. As a board we respect the input of these committees and do not override their recommendations with our personal views.

So here are our training hours as of Feb. 28:

Name Years Required Hours Actual Hours Credentials

Karen Ellis 1 16 44.50 TASB Leadership applicant

Lanet Greenhaw 2 24 132.00 Master Trustee candidate

Anne Foster 3 32 190.25 Master Trustee

Dr. Stephanie Hirsh 4 40 165.75 National Education Authority

Anne Barab 5 48 265.00 Master Trustee

Mike Tabor 6 56 234.00 Master Trustee

Ron Hughes 11 104 331.25 Master Trustee

As I’ve worked with trustees from across Texas, I’ve found the distinguishing characteristic of outstanding boardsmanship is a spirit of mission to serve ALL the children of their community. We hope we serve you well.