Some Delaware school district boards are questioning what they get from their membership in the Delaware School Boards Association.
The cost of joining is not insignificant.
In Caesar Rodney School District’s July board meeting, John Marinucci, former executive director of DSBA, said it would cost the district $10,500 per year to be part of the association, That includes a discount on using BoardDocs, a use-friendly way to post district business, such as school board meetings and materials.
Christina School District’s fee would have been $16,500 this year, but the board voted to not continue it.
In Red Clay’s July 13 meeting, board members Kecia Nesmith and Cathy Thompson butted heads because Nesmith wanted to table the vote on whether to join the association so she could get further information about it to judge if it’s worth the financial expenditure.
“I’m more in favor of moving forward right now, and I think it’s important that we join because we’re the largest school district in the state of Delaware and we’ve gotten a lot of benefits out of the DSBA,” Thompson said in the meeting.
Thompson said the board, which was not a member last year, missed out on opportunities to network at the National School Board Association conference, having a voice in the legislature and board training activities.
David Tull, the new executive director of the association, was a former school board member in Seaford School District. He said the national conferences he attended were definitely one of the highlights of his time on the board, and a great way to learn from boards across the country.
He also cited the extensive training and development opportunities available as members of the association.
Most Delaware school districts are members of the association.
Christina School District’s board voted in July to quit the association with a vote of four to three.
Board member Naveed Baqir said the national conference was helpful, and he’s a fan of the state association’s leadership.
He was concerned, though, about the $16,500 that the district must pony up to be a member, and he believed it was not worth it.
“I think it’s a wasteful expenditure that we should spend elsewhere,” he said.
One of the bigger and most apparent benefits of joining is having access to BoardDocs. That software portal contains information about board meetings, including dates, agendas, action items and supporting documents, public comment details, livestream links, board policies, meeting minutes, archived audio recordings and more.
BoardDocs already is a common way to get information about specific boards of education throughout the state.
“We typically charge a one-time, non-recurring $1,000 startup fee but that will be waived,” Marinucci told Caesar Rodney when they were debating whether to join.
While districts do not have to be a part of the association to have BoardDocs, joining gives them about a $4,000 discount on the service, Marinucci said.
In Red Clay’s July 13 meeting, Thompson argued that the district received a lot of benefits when it was a member.
Those benefits included professional development for board members, school board boot camp, financial training, special education training and more.
A representative from the DSBA regularly gives testimony and public comment on bills during the legislative session.
One of the best parts is the automatic membership in the national association and its annual conference, Thompson said.
“You see school board members from all over the country,” she said. “You get to talk with them, you hear the latest issues, you learn topics that you hadn’t thought about, or maybe had thought about but are given direction with them.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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