Board governance for school boards involves exercising a guiding influence over the way in which a district functions, and determining the direction and focus of the district, which is more often than not centered on the students and continually improving student performance. For school boards, maintaining rapport and respect among the community is also key to performing effectively in their role. As school boards are public-facing and must abide by strict meeting rules and regulations, practicing good board governance helps them stay accountable and effective in all of their board efforts to benefit students and the district at large.
Practicing good board governance means implementing processes and strategies that help a school board remain compliant with all rules and regulations, put sound security measures in place, facilitate open and productive communications both among board members and the community, monitor progress towards goals and generally keep board meetings on track. Board governance is an essential component of school boards’ responsibilities and should be given just as much attention and care as oversight duties. Equally as important as oversight, board governance requires thinking, acting and writing in ways that exemplify leadership and assure the friends and neighbors that elected each board member that they are capable of fulfilling the district’s needs. Good board governance instills public trust, establishes a welcoming and accessible environment for every constituent and invites open and consistent communication between all stakeholders in a community.
When considering the best ways to approach board governance, public education boards will want to consult the best practices around board governance and leverage the right tools to implement those practices. Tasked with needing to meet exceedingly high standards from the public, school boards can benefit greatly from following the best practices for board governance to maintain strong performance and continue to drive positive results for the districts they reside in.
Several factors come into play when looking to apply best practices for board governance. Many school boards are either employing insecure and unreliable paperless meeting technologies, or are still using paper-bound, manual processes. Both of these methods expose school boards, and districts at large, to serious risks for incidents such as data breaches or leaks, phishing and ransomware attacks. Maintaining public transparency and following open meeting laws is key to the operations of school boards, but without the right practices and resources, it can be difficult to safeguard sensitive information while still providing required public access. Implementing the best practices for board governance allows school boards to find a happy medium between the two that keeps the public satisfied and well-served, while securing board operations and sensitive data from any outside threats.
New board members elected to a school board often have difficulty getting up to speed quickly and understanding all of the nuances, rules, processes and operations that shape board work. Even seasoned board members can sometimes lose momentum on the most efficient and effective ways to fulfill responsibilities and achieve goals. With this being said, board governance is not something that necessarily comes easily to board members at any level of experience.
Focusing on board development activities is a great way to provide needed information to new board members during onboarding, as well as help seasoned board members stay focused on their core responsibilities – governance and oversight. Board development programs can include anything that assists board members in developing and honing their knowledge and experience to ultimately equip them to fulfill their role as effectively as possible. With the right board development activities and initiatives, board governance can become a common language spoken by all school board members.
Making the move to paperless meeting software is a step that today’s school boards must consider in a rapidly changing, high-stakes environment. Public-facing, school boards must live up to the expectations of those living within the district and provide ample support to driving student success initiatives. Meeting the highest board governance standards is no easy feat, and requires assistance from the proper tools and resources that help to facilitate strong board governance practices. Adopting a paperless meeting solution that offers sound security features for sensitive data, makes public transparency and open meetings compliance a breeze, and streamlines each aspect of board activity is the most effective way for school boards to master board governance and work smarter, not harder.