Your school board helps make critical decisions, sets strategic goals, and fosters a conducive environment for students and educators. The best boards accomplish these things with efficiency and transparency—and a continuous eye on the future. Whether your building your board from the ground up or would like to strengthen your existing board’s efforts, it’s helpful to focus on these five areas: what we call, the “Five P’s.”
Strong boards that consistently meet and exceed their promises have clear goals for the CEO and trustees. Are the C-suite and the board maintaining focus on what matters most? Time-consuming distractions not only keep everyone from their most important tasks, but they can also lead to burnout. Set priorities so your board is effective and efficient.
Remember: it’s a privilege to serve on your board! Aim to be in a position where non-voting committee members and people in the community are working to earn a spot on your board. Recruiting the right people to a school board results from a strategic plan that aligns potential members’ skill sets to the school’s goals and challenges.
The best process maximizes your board’s time and talents. An exemplary process for a school board includes regular and robust attendance, complying with your state’s open meeting law, taking clear minutes, and assigning a board member to oversee operational excellence. The process can also mean building the school’s institutional memory, including a record system for organizing and accessing bylaws, governing documents, and financial documents.
For a school board, performance comes down to accountability for the board members and the CEO. For example, if a board aims to fundraise $10,000, you’ll want to assign each person a specific task. The board should also assign the CEO three to five clear and achievable goals for the school year. Pay special attention to priorities affecting the application or renewal, including closing achievement gaps, retaining teachers, maintaining and/or increasing enrollment numbers, and closely monitoring attendance.
Mastering progress can be challenging for a school board. It means keeping an eye on the future at the same time as you work toward achieving the current school year’s goals. And just like your school, your board will evolve from year to year. Ideally, the governance committee analyzes the board’s governance capabilities each year and sets goals to recruit new members or to train and coach existing members to improve in needed areas.
Your Resource for a Strong School Board
A strong school board is a cornerstone of success for your school. By assembling a diverse group of individuals aligned with the school’s mission, promoting transparency, upholding ethical standards, and strategically overseeing the institution’s growth, the board contributes to an environment where students thrive, educators excel, and the community prospers.
Learn more by downloading the free Charter School Board Governance Guide. Created in partnership with BoardOnTrack, you’ll learn the essential roles and responsibilities of your governance board and how to govern for growth at every stage.