The good, the bad and the misunderstood

Members discuss challenges, rewards of serving on the school board

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As the old saying goes for most every elected official, first you’re sworn in then you’re sworn at.

During January’s School Board Appreciation Month, members of the Sealy ISD Board of Trustees talked about the ups and downs, joys and pains of serving on the board. They know full well how strong emotions are when the decisions they make affect children and communities at their core.

“Serving on the board is definitely the most difficult thing that I do, but also the most rewarding,” said Board President Ryan Reichardt, who is in his eighth year on the board and fifth as president.

“The importance of serving on a well-functioning team with many different points of view who are all trying to make the best decisions for kids weighs on you personally,” he said. “Having the honor to be in that position and seeing the progress and positive outcomes in kids is what is the most enjoyable.”

Joe Mike Young is also serving his eighth year on the board of trustees. He said what he enjoys most about serving is, “giving back to the community and school district. Trying to make a difference in people’s lives, preparing them for the future.”

Kristen Novicke is the newest member, having joined last May.

“I love serving on the Sealy ISD school board because education and our children are very important to me. I also enjoy being a part of the district and serving our community,” she said.

Each of the three board members pointed out that the job comes with a lot of challenges.

“The most difficult thing is the time commitment it takes to really invest in supporting the district and serving the board, but Sealy ISD provided me with the foundation and tools to be successful,” Reichardt said. “I cherish the opportunity to be able to provide that same foundation and sense of community for our kids’ generation.” He added that being president has its own challenges. “The role of the board president is unique because you have to represent everyone and can at time lose a bit of your own voice,” he said. “We make the best decisions when everyone is involved so it is very important to support and value everyone.”

Young said the hardest part is finding the right balance when making important decisions. He said his biggest challenge is, “having to decide between ‘right’ and ‘right’ and knowing that you want the best for all stakeholders.”

“Whether it is holding down the tax rate for the taxpayers, new/different educational programs for students, new technology, new equipment for students, salaries and benefits for staff, and better facilities, wanting and needing all of these things, but knowing money is limited and we have to stay within budget,” he said.

“The hardest part about serving on the board is trying to find a balance between a lot of different perspectives when always trying to do what is best for kids,” Novicke said.

The board members said the general public does not always understand what their job is and what responsibilities they have.

“The role of a board member is not what most people think,” Young said. “We are a team of eight people, seven board members and a superintendent, with each board member having one vote. We are here to set and adopt policy, adopt a budget, hire a superintendent and hold them accountable for the day-to-day operations of our district. We are not there to hire and fire the football coach, principal, teacher, or other staff members.”

Novicke has been learning a lot since coming on the board about what is and isn’t public information.

“I would like people to know we cannot always share all the information that we may have and that we try to make the best decision we can with what we know,” she said.

Superintendent Sheryl Moore said she is very appreciative of her board.

“We have one of the most dedicated, functional, and effective school boards in the state of Texas. They are all in it for the right reasons and make every decision using the framework of what is best for kids. I hold each and every one of them in high esteem,” she said.

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