School quality in the U.S. is directly influenced by the leadership habits and results of the school board. The school board is ultimately responsible for the education of children in its community, making decisions that affect the lives of students, parents, teachers, other school/district employees, and the whole community. This is a new day for the board: For the first time in the history of the school board, these leaders will be responsible for governing a classroom they have never seen nor personally experienced.
For every municipality around the world, the impact of schools and their leadership should not be underestimated.
In this rapidly changing information age, the quality and breadth of schools available in a community is a leading indicator of the economic growth potential.
Webinar Series: The Four Pillars of School Design
This week I begin a new weekly webinar series entitled, The Four Pillars of School Design, where we will explore strategies, opportunities, and threats for growing a school in today's education economy. These free sessions are offered online every Tuesday at 2:00 PM Eastern Time. The first session considers the Pillar of Governance in a modern school and how the school board can best contribute to the success of the district or institution.
What exactly is expected of a school board? The three core contributions of an effective board are summarized below:
- Vision: A compelling story of purpose, expected results, and plans for achievement that produces energy, commitment, and momentum
- Viability: Conditions for success in terms of economics, people, processes, systems, policies, facilities, culture, compliance, management, and plans
- Visibility: Engaged mind-share with school leadership, faculty, parents, students, prospective families, community, and other key influencers
Below are some of the important traits of an effective board as defined by the National School Boards Association:
- Shared Vision
- Common values and beliefs
- Accountability for results
- Collaborative spirit
- Data-driven continuous improvement
- Resources required to execute the vision and strategic plan
- Trust within trustees and with the chief administrator
- Cooperative team work
How does a board develop these traits to improve quality and success? Below are The Seven Habits of a Sustaining Board, which are common among the highest rated school boards. A Sustaining Board is the fourth stage in the School Growth Board Development Continuum, and is characterized by its long-term focus (100+ years), sound financial structure, protection of its mission, and organizational strength.
- Trustee Cultivation The sustaining board intentionally builds relationships with peers and prospective trustees, strategically selecting and evaluating leaders who are fully aligned with the mission, culture, strategies, and expectations for the role.
- Annual Trustee Goals The sustaining board identifies specific goals for each trustee to accomplish and regularly reports progress.
- Peer Review The sustaining board provides feedback on the specific traits that lead to a healthy board culture, building capacity with dialogue and professional development.
- Meeting Quality Improvement The sustaining board strategically plans for each board meeting with subsequent feedback for future adjustments.
- Organizational Health Indicators The sustaining board focuses on and has thorough knowledge of the leading indicators that forecast long-term quality and stability of the organization, developing plans to strengthen the results of each measurement.
- Strategic Plan Goals The sustaining board prioritizes the annual organizational goals for the board and the chief administrator to pursue, regularly reporting on progress, adjustments, and results.
- Financial Driver The sustaining board reports on and monitors the key economic factor that most significantly impacts viability and growth.