Board Checklist for a New School Year
Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director
With our students and staff heading back to school, we know they are excited about each day and focused on the year ahead. As Boards, it is important to refocus and put attention on the months to come. Here is a checklist of things each Board should consider doing as your school year begins!
- GET OUT YOUR CALENDARS. There are many things Boards should be adding to their calendars right now. Don’t wait. Pull them out and add them today. Be sure items are also on your personal calendars, or ensure the Board calendar is linked to your personal one so that you don’t plan a vacation during an important event. You don’t want to miss some very important or necessary obligations of your Board. Once you are an elected official, one of your responsibilities is to participate fully in meetings, workshops, trainings, and other related activities.
- Ensure that all of your monthly meetings are on your calendars. Most boards meet at a regularly set time each month, but others are not so specific. We recommend you schedule all your meeting times from now until next June and get them on a public calendar, so everyone knows when your meetings will be held. This also goes for work sessions. If you have them mapped out, include them as well.
- SCHEDULE YOUR SUPERINTENDENT EVALUATION PROCESS. If you do a half-year check-in during the fall, have those dates on your master calendar. More importantly, identify the date that you will start the longer annual evaluation process and think about:
- What day does the evaluation go out to the superintendent?
- When is it due back to the Board? How long do board members have to add comments? Who will compile the board comments?
- What date will you sit and discuss the evaluation with the superintendent? AASB recommends that you begin in December or early January and complete the process by the end of February or early March at the latest. AASB offers a facilitated service to help with the evaluation process, but get on our calendars early as dates quickly fill up on our schedules.
- ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR BOARD WORKSHOPS IS THE ANNUAL “BOARD SELF-ASSESSMENT.” The session helps Boards discuss how they are working as a team and how effective they are in the role as a governing body. AASB facilitates about half the Boards in the state each year, however, the AASB staff is booked about 3 months out. If your board wants to schedule at Board Self-Assessment and Priority Setting workshop we would recommend you get that on your calendar sooner than later. Pick some dates and reach out to AASB to see which of our team can come and help you.
- DO A SCAN OF YOUR WEBSITE TO ENSURE THE REQUIRED MATERIAL IS EASY TO FIND. How many clicks does it take to find your policy manual? You, as Board Members, know that policy is your ultimate responsibility. However, the general public probably doesn’t think, “Oh, the policies will be with the School Board.” Instead, they want a simple way to find the policy manual.
- Do you have other necessary documents easily accessible?
- Can you find your Vision and Mission statements?
- Where is your Strategic Plan?
- Are student handbooks easy to find?
- Are all Board members listed with a way to contact each of them? You are an elected official, and YES, you need to share contact information with your constituents. It is vitally important to use a district-provided email to conduct the work of the Board. We recommend that you NOT use your personal email address. If you don’t have a district email address, work with your IT department to assist you.
- PLAN HOW YOU WILL ORIENT NEW BOARD MEMBERS. Elections for new Board Members happen in early October. In most districts, there will be turnover, and new member(s) will be joining the Board. What is your process for orienting new members to the Board? Most districts send members to the AASB “Ready, Set, Govern” session at the Annual Conference, November 3 at the Hotel Captain Cook. However, there is more to on-boarding members than that “one and done.” Be sure to spend time talking about how to onboard new members. Have a 6-9 month plan to bring the newest member(s) up to speed.
- INCLUDE AASB CONFERENCES ON YOUR BOARD CALENDAR. Ask your Executive Administrative Assistant to put all AASB events on your board calendar. Each of these training sessions includes a variety of topics that can help members grow and become more knowledgeable on specific topics. For example, the School Law & Equity Academy in December will focus on negotiations and contracts, and the Fall Academy will focus on teacher retention and what the state is working on to increase the teacher applicant pool. For the 2022-23 school year, here are the professional development opportunities for Board Members.
- Fall Boardsmanship Academy Sept. 17-18 Fairbanks
- School Maintenance Conference Oct. 5-6 Anchorage
- AASB Annual Conference Nov. 3-6 Anchorage
- Executive Administrative Assistant Training Dec. 8-9 Anchorage
- School Law & Equity Academy Dec. 9-10 Anchorage
- Leadership & Legislative Fly-In Feb. 4-7, 2023, Juneau
- Spring Boardsmanship Academy April 15-16, 2023 Anchorage
- Last but not least, PUT ON YOUR LEARNING HAT. Remember what it means to be a Board Member. Show responsibility by doing your homework and coming to meetings prepared for discussion, reading your packets, and asking questions of your superintendent before the meeting, so they have time to get accurate answers. The public is watching you and the entire Board. Your professionalism is essential, and your willingness to be a lifelong learner is appreciated.
By going through this checklist, you are ensuring you and your Board are ready for a successful year ahead. Good luck and let us know how we can be of assistance.