Even SSD Governance is Specialized

Posted by Dr. Elizabeth Keenan on 12/6/2021

For more than a half-century, Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) has been making a difference in students' lives. The District annually educates more than 24,000 students who receive a range of special education services or career and technical education. 

SSD relies heavily on other local school districts to ensure that the unique educational needs of students in St. Louis County are met. Although this cross-district collaboration takes place on many levels, one of its most visible manifestations is SSD’s Governing Council. 

Formed in 1996, the Governing Council is a 22-person oversight board consisting of one Board of Education member from each of St. Louis County’s 22 public school districts. The Governing Council reviews and approves the District’s annual budget, reviews and approves a five-year rolling strategic plan for the District, and interviews and elects the members of the SSD Board of Education.

SSD’s Board of Education consists of seven members, with each member representing a subdistrict based on the student population of our partner districts. With the passage of Proposition S in 1998, SSD Board of Education members are elected by the Governing Council, not by popular vote.

As a governmental body, the SSD Board of Education holds monthly business meetings and regular work session meetings. Board members are responsible for studying, evaluating, and, after due consideration, voting in the best interest of all students. The key responsibilities of the Board are to review and approve the District’s annual budget, review and approve the District’s long-range plan, hire and evaluate SSD’s superintendent, serve as a liaison with subdistricts, and evaluate and set District policy.

An annual Board election is held in March. Board members serve three-year overlapping terms, with two or three members elected each year. Board members, who receive no compensation for their service to the District, are committed and concerned citizens who devote countless hours working on behalf of children and the educational interests of SSD stakeholders.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Our system of local school districts and boards of education epitomizes representative and participatory government - citizens elected from our community making decisions about educational programs based on community needs, values, and expectations.  Boards of education not only represent the public, but also translate the needs of students into policies, plans, and goals that will be supported by the community.