School of Business Affairs - October -2017

22 OCTOBER 2017 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS The School Business Official’s Voice in the Legislative Process The voice of the school business official is critical in the legislative process when education issues are concerned. Valentina G. Viletto, Esq. LEADING FORWARD legislators’ decision making may be skewed by anecdotal information or opinion rather than facts. Almost daily, legislators discuss proposals that can potentially affect school funding, school taxes, pen- sions, facilities, school safety, and other school business–related issues. Although school business officials can identify the complexities of the short- and long-term effects on their schools if such proposals become law, many legislators make deci- sions without benefit of the SBOs’ expertise—unless school business professionals speak up. In a perfect world, every legisla- tor would have the time to fully review the effects of all proposed education bills and amendments, but legislation often moves so quickly in session that the voting schedule does not always allow for as thorough a review as the legislator may need or want. The vote on a particular issue might take place within a few hours of members’ receiving a multipage proposal. Here is where the voice of the school business official becomes essential. As legislative proposals make their way through the commit- tee process, the input and perspective of SBOs can help legislators and their staffs understand the dynamics of proposed legislation. Thousands of bills are filed each legislative session with a small percentage becoming law. Staff mem- M ost state and national education associations do a great job of keep- ing members informed about legislative issues through blogs, tweets, and newsletters, but do school business officials take the time to read those communications? When asked to contact legislators about a particular bill, do school business officials heed the call? Often, the individuals with exper- tise in particular issues assume that others—especially the network of education associations—will advo- cate on their behalf, so they don’t take the time to add their own voices to legislative advocacy efforts. Contrary to that belief, the voice of the school business official is critical in the legislative process when edu- cation issues are concerned. Why You Should Bother Legislators come from a variety of professional backgrounds and have a wide range of knowledge, but they are asked to make decisions on mat- ters that may be totally unrelated to their field of expertise. Even elected officials who have been educators may not be versed in day-to-day school operations and may not rec- ognize the direct effect particular proposals might have on schools. To make informed decisions, legislators need accurate, reliable information directly from those who work in education. Without infor- mation from the experts in the field, STOCKLITE/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM