Board Operating Principles
School board members are guardians of the public trust. Through the policies they make, Board members are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of local public education. The Board serves as the advocate for educational excellence for the community's youth and puts those interests first while mindful of their fiscal responsibility to the community. The policies School Boards make dictate the standards and philosophies by which schools are run and the criteria used to judge whether they are being run well.
We affirm the unique role of public education, whereby a community collectively pools its resources for the common good of all its youth. Therefore, we will seek to uphold and improve public education. We will work together with the Superintendent to make our district as accessible and friendly to the public as possible.
The Key RESPONSIBILITIES of the Board of Education:
- Provide educational leadership to the school community it serves.
- Create and maintain a vision and a mission for the district.
- Hire and evaluate the superintendent to whom we delegate all administrative responsibility and authority.
- Establish clear and measurable goals and evaluate outcomes.
- Adopt and evaluate policies.
- Approve and adopt the School District's annual budget.
- Involve the community in the life of the district.
- Maintain open and honest communication.
AGREEMENTS Regarding Roles & Responsibilities
In order to enable us to execute our responsibilities in the most effective and efficient way, we agree to the following:
- The board has one employee - the superintendent. The board and superintendent work together to fulfill their mutually complementary roles. Trust combined with open and honest communication is our intent.
- The superintendent is accountable only to the full board of education. The relationship between the superintendent and any individual member of the board of education is collegial not hierarchical.
- No board member or subset of the board of education has the authority to act or speak on behalf of the board without consent by the full board. The board president is the spokesperson for the board to the media.
- The board and the superintendent have the right to expect performance, candor and honesty from one another.
- The board will keep its focus on balancing student achievement and fiscal responsibility while striving to reflect diverse community expectations.
- All board members represent the entire district.
- As the board establishes goals, it assures that there is agreement on how the goals will be measured and on the kind of data needed to monitor progress.
- The Board is committed to considering Board initiatives in its annual goal setting process. As potential initiatives are presented, they will be placed in a "parking lot" for consideration at future goal setting sessions. Attachment A contains information about placing items in the "parking lot."
- The board as a whole and each member accept responsibility for the Board process and effectiveness. The Board commits itself individually and collectively to stand by its code of conduct, to abide by majority decisions of the board, to maintain a positive culture and orderly decision making processes, and to do its work openly. The Board will annually reaffirm the district mission, vision and beliefs.
- When confronted with concerns from stakeholders, Board members will listen carefully, yet clarify that one board member has no individual authority to fix a problem. Board members will use care to distinguish between concerns which pertain to the key responsibilities of the Board and those which are operational in nature. Board members will handle operational concerns by referring the stakeholder to the appropriate staff within the chain of command. If the appropriate staff is not readily apparent, then Board members will refer the stakeholder to the superintendent. Board members will call the superintendent if this is an issue of concern.
- Board members will make every effort to submit, by email to the superintendent, questions on agenda items by the Tuesday morning prior to the board meeting. Board Members should indicate whether a response is needed prior to the meeting, or if the question is simply advanced notice of a question that will be asked at the meeting. The superintendent will provide responses to questions to that board member and “cc” all board members. This agreement does not preclude board members from asking at the board meeting any question previously submitted to the superintendent in compliance with this agreement. The superintendent will be prepared to answer the question at the board meeting.
- A board member who wishes to listen to an audio recording of a closed session meeting will submit a request to the board president. The board president will arrange a date and time when the board member and the board president, or designee, will listen to the recording.
- In order to maintain a positive team approach, we will:
- strive to see the good in others and believe everyone has good intentions;
- look for, recognize, and promote the positive contributions of each team member;
- refrain from speaking negatively about the character of another team member;
- seek ways to turn obstacles into opportunities;
- maintain a sense of optimism and humor in working together;
- strive toward increasingly high levels of statesmanship in dealing with each other, recognize and respect each other's feelings.
- We will always display personal integrity.
- We will clearly identify issues and discuss them in an open, honest and respectful manner. We will solve problems through a collaborative process where all viewpoints are given a fair and open voice. We will support the final Board decision. When casting their "no" vote, individual members are encouraged to explain the reason for their vote.
- Board members and the superintendent will set examples of leadership which encourage and promote cooperation.
- We will respect the expertise that others bring to the organization, sincerely listen to others and seek to understand their viewpoints.
- Board communication regarding staff and operational issues will always take place through the superintendent.
- We will respect the confidentiality of matters addressed during closed sessions of the board and be judicious in our use of email and texts, understanding that they are covered by the Freedom of Information Act, subject to identified exemptions, and may be made public.
- We will make judgments on objective information, not on perceived motives.
- We will use language in board discussions that articulates and thereby reinforces commitment to our mission, vision and beliefs.
- We will evaluate our decisions in light of the District's mission, vision and beliefs.
- We will focus on the future, not the past.
- Out of respect for all participants and the orderly process of governance, we will communicate openly and avoid surprises in meetings and between meetings. Moreover, if and when an individual board member receives information pertaining to matters before the board or responsibilities of the board, that information will be provided to all board members. ("One gets, all get.")
- Board members are obligated to comply with the Open Meetings Act (OMA) which covers communication among board members, including email and text communication. With respect to all board communication, the OMA prohibits private communication among a majority of a quorum of the board or a committee of the board, which, for the board as a whole, is three (3) members. Accordingly, to promote compliance with the OMA as it pertains to email or text communication, board members, among other measures, will not "reply to all" to any district email or text other than those dealing exclusively with scheduling, and will not encourage email or text discussions of board business by stating their opinions or voting inclinations in communication with other board members.
Attachment A - Board of Education "Parking Lot"
The Board will establish and the Administrative Assistant to the Board will keep a list of "Other Board Requests," commonly referred to as the "Parking Lot."
Criteria: Board members may enter an item into the parking lot when it fits the following criteria:
- It is a future topic linked to the District's mission and vision.
- It is not necessarily included in current District goals.
- It is an idea driven by research or "best practice," and/or it has produced favorable results in other districts with whom we share a common bond.
Procedure: An item may be added to the "parking lot" at any meeting under the topic of "Reports from Board Members" with the general acknowledgement from other board members. More than likely, these will be added at specific discussions on District goals or after attending conferences.
Required Information: When placing an item in the "parking lot" the submitting board member should provide:
- A brief description of the item/action (Example: Evaluate School Uniforms)
- The basis for the request/tie to District Mission/Vision/Beliefs (Example: Safe and Secure Leaming Environment)
- The perceived outcome (Example: Decrease in gang "presentation," easier enforcement than current dress codes)
- Name (Andy Johnson)
- Date (August, 2011)
Action: Items in the "Parking Lot" will be considered at the Board's annual goal setting session(s). At these sessions, with the consensus of the Board, items may be elevated to goals/action items, left in the parking lot, or deemed no longer applicable and removed entirely.