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Friday, May 23, 2008

This is School Board Recognition Week. There is no greater voluntary responsibility undertaken by Iowans than overseeing the more than 350 public school systems in our state.

These people make difficult, sometimes controversial decisions with no pay and little recognition for their efforts. Boards in our rural area have had a particularly challenging job, trying to maintain the highest level of offerings possible in the face of declining enrollment based revenue.

The Iowa Association of School Boards had compiled facts a couple of years ago about the more than 2,000 men and women serving on the K-12 school boards. They guide the education of nearly half a million young people and oversee budgets totaling nearly $4 billion.

Although the compilation is two years old, the statistics are likely fairly close to what is true for present board members.

The age of about half of the board members was unknown at the times, but among those whose age was known, 3 were under 26; 43 were 26 to 35; 97 were 36 to 40; 534 were 41 to 50; 321 werre 51 to 60 and 92 are over 60. The average age of those reporting was 48.

Of those whose gender is known, 1,195 were male and 623 were female.

The breakdown by percentage of boards according to the number of students in their districts was: under 250 - 7 percent; 250 to 499 - 24 percent; 500 to 749 - 26 percent; 750 to 999 - 13 percent; 1,000 to 1,499 - 13 percent; 1,500 to 1,999 - 6 percent; 2,000 to 3,499 - 4 percent; over 3,499 - 7 percent.

They are a diverse group of people who share a common goal, providing the best education possible for the kids of Iowa. They deserve our gratitude.