The school board meeting is the primary forum for this vital group to perform its duties. This is their place to function and grow the school by providing the leadership required to do great things.
As a school leader, your goal in life isn’t to go to meetings, but to pursue a great mission.
You’re involved in the education of children - is there a more noble calling?
You have the privilege of providing top level leadership in your school - take that responsibility seriously and joyfully in order to create a purpose driven board that is governing a purpose driven school that inspires great dreams.
The board's leadership sets the tone and pace for the entire organization to follow, and the board meeting is where you can demonstrate high expectations, effective habits, and outstanding execution. For this reason, board meetings should model the best practices for learning, planning, culture, and management.
Boundary of Board Authority
It is very important for members of the board to understand that they have no authority (zero, nada, zilch) as a trustee or board member unless the board has been convened as a body to conduct its business. That’s a concept about which some board members get confused - if you’re walking down the school hallway as a board member, you have no authority. When you’re at a school event, you have no authority. When the board has been called to order, and has an established agenda, members can then fulfill their duties as a trustees in conducting the business of the board. Outside of that convening, an individual trustee cannot and should not be giving direction or setting expectations for any school employee as if they are a person of authority, because absent from that call-to-order, he or she has no authority.
When meeting is initiated, it should be a valuable use of everyone's time. These are people who have volunteered to be part of leadership, and you have set high expectations for them. Use this time with them wisely to be extraordinarily effectively. The sustaining boards with which we have worked are very intentional about their meeting strategy and process for improvement of board meetings.
How does your Board’s culture impact the quality of your meetings?
When you look at your board culture today, how does it impact your meetings? Are you able to have open dialogue? Are you able to plan effectively to further the mission? Is there professional interaction and respectful debate? As you plan board meetings, recognize the impact of culture and continuously develop a healthy relationship among board members so that they come into the meeting with the ability to make this important time as effective as possible.
Planning a Successful Board Meeting
Below is a five step process for planning a successful board meeting:
1. Purpose -Clearly defining the purpose of the meeting is the foundation to make this time highly productive. The purpose shouldn't be the same for every meeting - each one should be uniquely defined, and each member should be able to clearly articulate that purpose. If you can’t do that, should the board really be meeting?
2. Objectives - What are the measurable, attainable, meaningful objectives that we can achieve in this meeting? Express the objectives explicitly and concretely; for example, setting new hiring policies, approving a proposal for a new building, or setting fundraising goals. We have found that two to three objectives are ideal for a meeting, and as a rule you don’t want more than five.
3. Strategies - You have now defined what you want to achieve in this time together, but how are you going to do that? What are the methods, communications, techniques, and connections that you can use to accomplish some great objectives for your meeting? You have options - there are interesting strategies to use to ensure your meetings are very high quality.
4. Schedule - Every board meeting plan will include pre-meeting conversations, an agenda for the meeting, and post-meeting dialog.
5. Expectations - This is answering the question, “so what?” You’ve come together as a board - so what? Are you really creating value? How do you begin to anticipate objections as well as celebrate achievements that have occurred as part of this meeting or as a part of the larger organization. Sometimes expectations don’t fit with the established plan - put thought into how you can clearly align expectations with your purpose, your strategies, your objectives, and your schedule.