As chairman of the Hope Protestant Reformed School Board, I was invited to write an article on this topic. I hesitate to take pen in hand because of lack of experience. Having been a board member for more than four years, I feel my experiences allow me to relate some of the duties and problems of a school board. If by doing this I can somewhat attain the purpose of a better understanding between all parties involved, I will feel amply repaid.

Protestant Reformed parents, by the grace of God, realize their calling, desire to fulfill the promises uttered before the Lord and the church, “to instruct and bring up in the aforesaid doctrine or help or cause them to be instructed therein to the utmost of your power.” These parents organize into a Protestant Reformed School Society for Christian instruction, elect from its membership men, known as the School Board, to accomplish their purpose.

In order to understand our problems, the outline below, although not full and complete, will serve our purpose to determine some of the duties of the School Board as mandated by the Society.

I. Enrollment

II. Buildings

III. Teachers

IV. Finances

V. Supervision

I. Enrollment – The majority of the pupils enrolled come from the members of the School Society. There are also usually a few Christian parents in the vicinity, although not members of our own churches, who for the sake of “principle” or “convenience” will cooperate with the School Board and enroll their children. The total enrollment divided by 20 to 25 will determine the number of school rooms.

II. Buildings – The selecting of a building site is indeed very important, especially in the cities where building restrictions are enforced. The site should be centrally located. There should be plenty of space for the school buildings and playgrounds, as well as room for future expansion. At least 5 acres are needed for a 4 to 8 room school. State approved building plans must be secured before a building permit can be obtained. Contracts to erect the school building, install heating, plumbing and electrical equipment and etc. must be made. The playgrounds must also be prepared and equipped with playground equipment. Seats, desks, and many other needs must be purchased and installed. These buildings and equipment must be properly maintained. While all these needs are being supplied, another very important problem must be solved, that is, hiring of qualified teachers.

III.  Teachers –

A. Requirements. The School Board, having the spiritual welfare of our children in mind, should seek the services of the best qualified teachers available. I believe the necessary requirements are as follows: (1) The state requirements regarding education and health should be met. (2) They must be confessing members of one of our Protestant Reformed Churches, in good standing, subscribe to our Three Forms of Unity, and indicate very clearly their love of that truth as it is preached in our churches. (3) References regarding their experiences and ability are also desirable and should be given proper consideration.

B. Salaries. This subject is a delicate one but let us face the facts. At present, there is a shortage of qualified teachers not only in our circles but also in the entire teaching profession. Could the low salaries paid be the cause, especially among the male teachers? In my opinion, any young man or woman contemplating entering the Christian School teaching profession with the sole purpose of financial remuneration, should forget all about it. That alone disqualifies them to teach, but the School Board should not take advantage of teachers, who for the sake of principle are willing to teach in our own schools. If the information I have is correct, the salary our teachers receive is lower than the salary paid in other Christian Schools and considerably less than the salary paid the teachers in the public schools. Our School Board will do well to study this matter and, if necessary, make adjustments in the near future.

IV. Finance –  The problem seems to be “ever present.” The School Board faithful in its duties will try to keep the “cost of education” at a minimum. Although the cost of operating the school should be met mainly by tuition, still large sums of money are necessary to finance this project, and we must seek ways and means to accumulate this money. Financial Drives are conducted to raise money to finance the cost of the school buildings and equipment, and if more money is needed, a loan is negotiated. The cost of education is determined by dividing the total expenditure by the number of children enrolled. For example, if the operating expenses of the school for one year equaled $15,000, and the school enrollment equaled 100 pupils, the tuition per child would be $150 per year. Parents sending one child would pay this amount. Since it would become a hardship, if not impossible, for parents sending two or more children, the “sliding scale” is used. This creates a deficit which must then be met by church collections and gifts. I believe this problem could be solved, in part, if all those interested in Christian education, both young and old, would contribute a definite sum each week. Whether this sum be large or small, it would become a sizable gift by the end of a year. This could be done by stamped envelopes provided by the board.

V.  Supervision – This is indeed another major problem. The School Board should labor in close cooperation with the principal and teachers in order to obtain the best results.

A. Text book – In the best school books attainable, there are things that we cannot approve. The School Board is aware of this fact and realizes that the ideal shall be obtained only when we are financially able to engage qualified men and women to write and assemble proper material for our own text books. Song books are also a problem. The Psalter is excellent, yet does not seem to fill all the needs for every occasion. We are looking with anticipation for the new revised Psalter, for which our Synod is laboring.

B. Instruction – The School Board must observe closely the instruction given in the school by delegating its members to each school room periodically. This does not mean we do not have confidence in our teachers, but the Board is responsible for all instruction given.

C. Discipline – Many discipline problems arise and I believe the board is using wisdom when it gives the Principal and/or teachers a free hand in solving all minor problems. Laws and rules are necessary and proper, but it is impossible to provide rules that cover every phase of misconduct in the school and on the playground.

When major discipline problems are brought to the School Board by the Principal or parent, the Board must give just judgment. This can be accomplished when the Board seeks divine guidance, is endowed with wisdom, and uses tact and discretion. Then no discipline problem is too great to solve.

D. Transportation of Pupils – This is also a burden that has been placed on the shoulders of the School Board in part. Some children walk to school; for others, the parents must provide their own transportation and for others, transportation is provided. This is not ideal. Where children come from widely scattered areas representing a number of congregations, this problem becomes a major one indeed. Past experience has taught us when the School Board provides transportation, this problem becomes too far removed from the home. I believe parents from each congregation should get together and assume this responsibility in order to have closer cooperation, better service, and more economy.

 VI. Conclusion – The problems of the School Board are very many, of which I have mentioned only a few. A capable writer with experience in these matters could write a sizeable book on this topic.

Our heavenly Father has led us into the Protestant Reformed Churches where the truth has been maintained and developed. We insist that His covenant children, which the Lord has placed in our care, shall be taught that truth in our own Protestant Reformed Christian Schools. The School Boards, realizing their own weaknesses and shortcomings, covet your prayers and desire your full and complete cooperation in order to attain that one ideal.

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