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Board Governance - Board Goals

Who should be responsible for drafting/developing goals for the Board of Trustees of a school district? Case in point: local school district board is stuck on finalizing its annual goals, what seems unusual is that the draft goals they are reviewing were compiled by the school superintendent. Issue: the superintendent reports to (and was hired by) the board. It seems to me that the Superintendent (who has his own goals which the board has signed off on) cannot objectively be the person charged with drafting the goals for his superiors. What's your experience? What would you consider a sound practice?

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

What are the state education dept goals?

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Wayne
If it was not for the fact that my question relates to Illinois, your question would be easy to answer:).

I'm trying to get non-Illinois feedback on how school boards should go about this:)

Thanks
Len

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

That is the responsibility of the board. A good superintendent would guide them to this responsibility or push it back to them if they try and pass it off. They have the responsibility and are accountable to the stakeholders for it.

Look to your charter or bylawas. There is likely some guidance there.

I too work in a special district. Our mission statement was written by our CEO who also "interprets" it for us.

This is a bad situation and leads to a lack of oversight by our board.

One day, someone is going to get appointed to our board who has some semblance of business sense, and see this problem and institute some important changes.

Allyn Heck
Title: Director of Underwriting
Company: United Health Group
(Director of Underwriting, United Health Group) |

I agree with "anonymous" above. The board is charged with the responsibility of governance. The board president/chair, in collaboration with the CEO, should engage the board in the formative processes of mission, goals/objectives (immediate and long term), drawing from the experiance, strengths and judgement of each board member. I benefited greatly, as immediate past board president of a healthcare non-profit (22 board members), from going through the governance training for board leaders conducted by the Wallis Annenberg Foundation. The emphasis is on leadership and the decision making process. I highly recommend it. Wishing you success!

David Buley
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Association of Independent Schools of NS..
(Chief Financial Officer, Association of Independent Schools of NSW) |

Respectfully I disagree with the previous two comments. I believe the task of creating goals and objectives to be a joint responsibility because the next step is creating strategy and I don't think boards are well placed to do that in isolation. Board members are indeed charged with the responsibility of Governance however all too often those members are part time in the school sector, and need guidance as to the realities of balancing funding with educational outcomes, managing staff and maintenance issues. I agree emphatically that all board members should undertake governance training as this assists them understand their obligations, not only under the relevant legislation but in a more moral or ethical sense. A joint approach to creating objectives and strategy will most likely be more successful because if that partnership is missing, both sides will blame the other in the event of failure. If they have collaborated on the goals, and then formulated a strategy to get there, and reported back regularly on those goals, then at least everybody is rowing in the same direction, whether that's up or down the stream (sorry about all the cliches).

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

David
Your comments are helpful and I think they add a nuance to this discussion. What concerns me is where those "part time" board members abrogate their role to the Superintendent and do little to show what they think themselves. That's poor governance behavior in my view.
Regards
Len

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

School Boards at least in my area of the Country are elected. So poor performing members can be un-seated.

However, a) most concerned citizens don't attend Board meetings, so they would never know and b) Boards (again in my area) like to do most of their "work" in closed-door sessions.

Anonymous
(Manager) |

I agree with Wayne, much of what goes on at public school board meetings is Kabuki theatre, acted out to present a reasonable facsimile of public involvement in decision making.

At least that's how it is where I live and I am friends with a school board member who confirms this. It's just a show, but without the popcorn and Milk Duds.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

@Wayne:

Elected school board members IMHO are frequently "ladder climbing" politicians with no real interest in the school district. It is often their first step in entering politics and, as soon as they achieve some level of name recognition, they go off and campaign for City Council or County Supervisor. From there they head off to State level campaigns.

This relates to the original post as, if the board members have no interest in the first place, they aren't going to be concerned with any goals for the Board either.

Frankly, I think this is not a particularly good situation for our public school system.

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