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What is the time commitment for a school board member at LLESD?

One of the most common questions I get as a school board member is about the time commitment required to serve as a district trustee.

In my experience, board service isn’t nearly as time consuming as some other volunteer roles (like the PTA presidency), especially in a small district like ours. That said, each trustee’s commitment varies based on the committees on which they serve; whether they're in a leadership position (e.g. president); their interest in taking part in the local, state (or even national) education scene; and many other factors such as how they process information.

So, in depends.

Each board term is four years (mine expires at the end of 2026). Here's a breakdown of the typical monthly board-member commitment during the school year. (We get summers off.)

It's a public body.

Keep in mind that, unlike private and other nonprofit boards, the school board is subject to California's Open Meeting Law (the "Brown Act"), which requires that the board only attend to business at agendized meetings (typically once a month). This naturally limits the amount of time trustees can work in between board meetings, especially compared to boards that can spend a lot of time working the vote behind the scenes. 

Time with constituents is manageable.

We're a small school district with fewer constituents than most. In a typical month, I may receive a handful of emails from constituents; they're not usually interested in a follow-up meeting or phone call. In fact, almost all of my constituent meetings are at my request. (Next month I'll write about how it feels to be a school board member -- beyond the time commitment -- but wanted to mention here that while the vast majority of constituents are kind and respectful, there are usually one or two in any given year who require a thick skin.)

Certain circumstances affect the time commitment.

Board members' monthly time commitment can vary depending on what's happening in the district. (Ahem, Covid.) Some of these circumstances may include: 

We also have special meetings.

At times, the board gathers outside of its regular Wednesday evening meeting schedule:

  • Budget study session (Feb): 2 hours

  • Annual forums with community and staff: 3 hours total

  • Annual board retreat (Jan): 2.5 hours

  • Board walkthroughs of the campuses: 2 hours every few months

  • Annual statewide board member conference (Nov/Dec): flexible depending on interest

The board role is a governance role.

Remember that, as a governance body, the school board doesn't manage the operational, day-to-day matters of the district. (See Bylaw 9000.) Here's an overview of the board's role:

Board members have many opportunities to engage.

Depending on one's interest and availability, board members can spend unlimited time serving the district. For example, I have the flexibility to serve on four board committees (Policy Development, Joint Committee On Priorities, Communications & Engagement, and the District Equity Team), and often attend PTA meetings to keep my ear to the ground. Some board members never miss a Foundation event.

Here are a few more completely optional things I do in my role as a trustee:

Please put on your thinking caps.

The deadline for declaring board candidacy is approaching (August 9, 2024). Leading up to that date, the district will host an information session for prospective board candidates. I'm also happy to answer questions about my experience.


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