Ten Items Every Board Member Should Have at Their Fingertips

Timi Tullis

Director of Board Development and Field Services

As we kick off a new school year and new members join your team, it’s a good time for each member to think about important items to keep at your fingertips. We at the AASB office are here to help you and your board in any way we can. We enjoy the calls we get on a daily basis with questions about the important work you as elected officials are doing for the youth in your communities!

Though we are always more than happy to help you with any questions you may have, we would also like to share with you a list of items that we feel will help any and all board members. Having quick access to the things on this list will not only help you as a board member, but also help in your decision making, participation in your community, and in the work you do each and every day to make your schools the best they can be.

1. Updated Policy Manual

First and foremost as a board member you need to have access to the updated policy manual. Many districts have their policies posted online, which takes the pressure off of district staff to ensure that the most recent updates are posted. Through AASB’s “Policy Online” service, your board secretary simply sends the changes to our office and within a few days those changes are updated. This service also allows you to cross reference policies or search for certain words to see how many policies address a specific topic.

2. Current Superintendent Contract

As you know, the only staff member that the board hires and releases from duty is the superintendent. It is important that the board be aware of the superintendent’s current contract and know where to find most updated version of it. When you renew your district superintendent’s contract be sure that you are aware of all the changes to the contract, and that you agree to them as a team.

3. Alaska Open Meeting Law

All board members should be very familiar with the Alaska Open Meeting Law. During AASB’s annual conference “Board Room Boot Camp” seminar, a session highlights the law and other key points to help newer members (or those who desire a review). No district wants to get in trouble for breaking the open meetings law. Knowing when executive sessions are used, realizing the number of board members that constitute an official meeting, and other important information is clearly outlined in the Open Meetings Law.

4. Parliamentary Procedure Quick Reference Guide

How often are you not sure if it’s time to second a motion, or amend a motion? Is it a friendly amendment? What constitutes a majority on your board? What is quorum for your board? All of these questions can be answered by keeping a quick reference on parliamentary procedure. AASB also offers sectionals and workshops on Robert’s Rules of Order at Academies and at the Annual Conference.

5. Data

Board members know the importance of data in making decisions for their district, but at times struggle with all of the data that are presented to them. Your District Report Card, available from Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), and School Climate and Connectedness Survey reports are examples of data that you and your board can use to make informed decisions for your students.

6. Strategic Plan

Where is your district headed? What does your Strategic Plan outline as your direction? Are you getting updates on this plan throughout the year? Is the plan posted on your website for all the community to see? Between the three board trainers in the office, we’ve worked with a majority of the boards in the last 18 months to conduct a board self-assessment and, in turn, develop boards goals for the coming year. These board goals are helpful in giving the administration some specific direction for the year ahead. Don’t have a strategic plan or board goals? Give us a call! We can assist your board in developing either of these plans.

7. District Budget

Ultimately one of your biggest responsibilities is the fiduciary role. It can be an overwhelming task at first to learn about the district budget and to know you are one of the people responsible for making district financial decisions. With the help of your business manager and administration, you should be able to have a working understanding of it in no time. What we really hope is that you then know where to find a copy of the budget. Remember that there are no dumb questions and that by asking them it is an opportunity to learn something new!

8. Board Calendar

Each Board should have a board calendar that outlines meetings, work sessions, training opportunities, superintendent evaluation, budget development, policy updates, election of officers, new member orientation, negotiations as well as other annual events. We recommend that you do a review of your student handbook, crisis plan, teacher evaluation plan, board goals, strategic plan and your audit. AASB can provide you with a copy of a suggested yearly calendar by contacting our office. President Pete Hoepfner will present on this topic at the Presidents workshop during the upcoming annual conference.

9. School Calendar

Along with the board work calendar, it is important for board members to have an updated school calendar. These calendars often highlight PTA, AASB’s meetings, concerts, testing dates, cultural activities, sporting events, plays, and a variety of student activities. As a board member, we know that one of the main reasons you do what you do is to support the youth in your community, and what better way than to attend their events.

10. AASB Contact Information

AASB offers many member support resources. Our website aasb.org has information from past conferences to share with your newly elected board members, registration for upcoming AASB events and workshops, highlights of topical legislative issues, past editions of the Commentary newsletter and other publications, and much more. We also hope you’ll pick up the phone and give us a call whenever you have something to discuss with us. You can reach any staff member from 8-5 weekdays by calling 907-463-1660. Some of us are on the road a lot, so our email addresses should be kept handy! All staff email addresses are listed on our website, but here’s a quick reference guide to AASB directors:

We all look forward to hearing from you!

By reviewing this list and making sure you have all of these items at your fingertips, you will be prepared for anything that comes your way.