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The Life of a Board of Education Member

September 9, 2022


I’ve had the special privilege of serving the children of Grand Island Public Schools for 16 years as a Board of Education (BoE) member and former President. I made the decision in 2018 to not run again for the board in this election cycle.

During my 16 years, I’ve served with three superintendents, one interim superintendent, and at least 23 different BoE members.

The BoE members I’ve worked with have been from all walks of life, various professions, different political leanings, diverse religious affiliations, some with children in the district, some without children in the district, some graduates of GISH and some from other towns or states. In other words, very unique people.

There have been numerous iterations of our nine member BoE. Each iteration has had its own unique culture and personality. Just one member leaving and being replaced by a new member changes the group dynamics.

When I joined the board in January 2007, we often received criticism that we had 9-0 votes. Some people thought this meant we were being led or brainwashed by the Superintendent and we were not thinking for ourselves. Guess what? We still have the same comments today being shared about us. 

How can nine, very different people, and one Superintendent be so cohesive and collaborative? Surely something nefarious is going on?


It’s that simple. The shared moral imperative – our why is the kids…every single kid that attends GIPS deserves an high-quality education, positive experiences and support to thrive in an ever changing world. 

There are other reasons we are cohesive:

  1. Committee Structure 

    We have five standing committees and close to 25 special/ad hoc committees. Each committee contains four or fewer BoE members. The committees allow for a deep dive into agenda items. NO decisions are made in the committees. Recommendations are formulated and presented to the entire BoE in an open meeting where additional discussion is held prior to votes.

  2. Strategic Plan & Goals 

    A strong, specific strategic plan with clear and measurable goals is established. This keeps everyone in the district focused. All decisions made on budget, policy, etc. are aligned with and support the strategic plan and goal fulfillment. 

  3. Transparency
    All BoE members have access to the same information. The Superintendent keeps the BoE members updated on all issues. The BoE members and the Superintendent make a promise to each other…no surprises. 

  4. BoE Members Commit to Professional Development 

    We become informed on issues so we can provide guidance. We cannot be disengaged, uninterested and focused on just a few key issues that mean a lot to us personally. We also cannot be micromanagers and try to tell the educational experts what they need to do and how they need to do it. We need to find a sweet spot in the middle of informed governance.

We believe every child in Grand Island deserves the best education we can offer. That is why I, and my colleagues, have proudly served on the Grand Island Public School Board of Education. 

- Bonnie Hinkle, Board Member - Ward B