School board members come from all backgrounds and are a reflection of the community they are serving. Your role is vital to the betterment of the educational opportunities available for the children and families you serve. Many board members come to the role without much experience in public service, let alone the ins and outs of how a board meeting is effectively run.
Here are some tips for board members to properly prepare for their roles and to get the most accomplished during a meeting:
- Understand your role as a board member in the development and administration of the policies.
The primary responsibilities of a school board are to set the vision and goals for the school, adopt policies that provide school administrators direction to set priorities to achieve the goals, hire and evaluate the executive director and adopt and oversee the annual budget. Effective meetings happen when school board members focus on their areas of responsibility and resist getting “into the weeds” on administrative items best handled by school staff.
- Have a solid understanding of “Robert’s Rules of Order.”
Did you know the rules came about after an engineering officer in the Army, Henry Martyn Robert, was asked to preside over a meeting and realized he had no idea how to proceed? After he failed miserably at conducting the meeting, Robert researched parliamentary procedure and wrote one standard procedure for running meetings that became his rules in 1915. “Robert’s Rules of Order” contain certain basic rules to keep a meeting progressing in the right direction. All meetings are facilitated by a chairperson, or president, and he or she is responsible for ensuring the meeting is conducted smoothly and fairly, giving everyone an opportunity to be heard in a structured and uniform way.
- Do your homework before the meeting.
School board members lead busy lives outside of their role on the board. Carving out time to review board materials prior to the meeting can become a challenge. Take the time to make sure you have a basic understanding of the items that you will be discussing at the meeting and if in doubt, contact the appropriate school administrator that can help answer your questions before the meeting begins.
- Be prepared to hear what the public has to say.
By having a structure in place to hear public comments, a board has the opportunity to hear concerns about a certain issue. The presiding chairperson needs to be comfortable in his or her role to consistently enforce any established limitations on speaker time or content.
- Be a team player.
Everyone comes to the table with their own beliefs and feelings around a particular issue. By being as transparent and collaborative in the decision making process as possible, and willing to compromise for the overall good of the organization, this will make for more productive board meetings.
How a school board handles its meetings speaks volumes to the community and students you serve. There is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders and it can be overwhelming to learn all the behind the scenes rules and regulations that goes into making a school district run well.
BerganKDV has a team of charter school experts who can help you and your administrative team navigate the federal and state financial guidelines to ensure your school is operating in compliance with statutes and as efficiently as possible to make every dollar count to provide the best possible educational environment for your students. Want to learn more about what we can do for you? Start here.