Approach to Becoming an Effective School Board: Procedure Update Explainer

What’s Happening and Why?

The school board’s procedures, and, therefore, its time is not focused on student learning. That needs to change because when the board isn’t focused on students, neither is the district. To change that, the board needs to update its procedures.

What Will Be Different?

The school board will adopt an updated set of operational procedures designed to focus more time on student outcomes. As a result, the board will go from spending 0-5% of its time each month on student learning to 50% of its time each month. This will make it easier to identify, diagnose, and address long-standing issues that have gone unaddressed. This is the most significant change, but there are more.

Current Practice

Effective Practice

Board meddling in ways that undermine organization alignment and psychological safety

A clear distinction between the board’s role and the superintendent’s role

Long, meandering meetings where much is said but little is done

Shorter and streamlined board meetings and fewer committee meetings

Less than 1% of time each month is invested in monitoring progress toward our goals for student learning 

Significantly increased time at board meetings discussing student outcomes

Conflict and competition among board members, and between the board and the superintendent

Teamwork among the board, superintendent, and senior staff

No discussion of whether or not students are actually learning

Transparent reporting to the public on the progress of our students

No internally imposed accountability regarding board or board member behavior

Transparent reporting to the public on our progress in each of the four effective governance practices

To cause those changes in board behavior, here are some of the high level changes being recommended:

Current Procedure

Proposed Update

The administration is not sufficiently transparent with items that the school board is being asked to vote on. 


School board members are insufficiently prepared for school board meetings.

All items to be considered by the school board will be provided twelve days in advance of the school board meeting. This will allow board members to review the items, ask questions, and get answers prior to the meeting. This will allow for meeting discussion that is more strategic and focused on student outcomes.

School board meetings are more focused on adult inputs to the exclusion of any focus on student outcomes.

School board meetings will focus on 1) the accomplishment of the community’s vision (goals), 2) adherence to the community’s values (guardrails), and 3) items legally required to come before the board.

Resolutions without end are geared toward political posturing rather than coherent and effective governance practices.

Resolutions will not be used to govern.

Board meeting agendas are populated with items related to adult inputs on behalf of a single board member.

Adult-focused matters that have not gone through a board-approved process will not be allowed on the agenda.

Board meeting agendas contain operational matters as a means for the board to engage in the day-to-day district management.

Operational matters that have not gone through a board-approved process will not be allowed on the agenda.

What Has Happened So Far?

  • In May, the full board and superintendent attend a national workshop to learn about how to focus on student outcomes.
  • In June, the board created an ad hoc committee to draft a set of updated board procedures.
  • In late July, the ad hoc committee met — as an augmented committee so that all board members could be included — to listen to community comments and discuss potential changes.
  • In early August, the ad hoc committee met and heard community comments on the first rough draft updates.
  • In mid-August, the ad hoc committee again met and heard community comments on the second rough draft updates.
  • The ad hoc committee unanimously passed the draft updates with a recommendation for the full board to adopt them.

What Will Happen Next?

  • The school board will vote on the items in September.
  • Once adopted, the board will challenge the superintendent to begin implementing the changes.
  • It is expected that changes of this magnitude will require three to four months to fully implement.
  • Another ad hoc committee will need to be created to address outstanding procedural issues such as existing committees, existing advisories, and how public comment is handled.

This page was last updated on September 15, 2022