Wednesday, August 5, 2015


KASB has been hosting new board leadership workshops this week.  New board presidents and vice-presidents have been learning about the important role they play in conducting a highly focused and productive board meeting.  Many great questions related to procedures and operating principles have been shared and discussed.  Most of the questions evolve around these simple guidelines so we thought it would be appropriate to share with all board members to provide a quick refresher.


  • Analyze your board agenda items.
    • Consent agenda for routine items?  
    • Notation for each item with expectations and recommendations from the 
    • Is there a place for public comment on the agenda?  
  • Do you start the meeting on time?
  • Is it evident that all board members are prepared?  Board packets are opened and read before the meeting.
  • Is there a high trust level with employees?  Use administrative/staff reports as an opportunity to ask questions and become more informed; treating all of employees as professionals.
  • How would an outsider rate the performance (behavior) of the board?
  • Are there agenda items that should be handled administratively?  Is the board micromanaging?
  • Is the president running the meeting effectively? Is the board focused on the district vision and mission?
  • Are you prepared for conflict that may surface?  There could be a “surprise”.
  • Are there items that surface under “hidden agendas”? Another “surprise”?
  • Do you clearly identify time limits to groups making presentations?
  • Do board members ask questions in the meeting that should have been addressed prior to the meeting?
  • Do all members feel they are valued and contributing to the board?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The summer months are coming to a swift conclusion.   The month of July may seem like a slow period to the average patron.  Most are not aware of the importance of the period between the conclusion of school and the beginning of school for students and staff.   Your district patrons in an attempt to be polite ask repeatedly of your board office staff, “What do you do in the summer?” 
Let’s attempt to answer that question.  The budget has been scrutinized and created.  Your superintendent has traveled to Topeka to have the proposed budget reviewed by the budget experts at KSDE.  Special board meetings are being scheduled to review the budget.  You are preparing for your budget hearing and eventually the district’s budgets are submitted to the county clerk. 
Many of your principals are frantically attempting to hire new staff.  The special education cooperatives are desperately trying to fill their classified positions. New board members have started their service, new board presidents have been placed, and new superintendents are beginning their tenure in your district.  New board of education clerks have started and are learning the position on the fly.
In the midst of the summer chaos, your district office staff is attempting to get contracts and work agreements produced and mailed for signatures.   They are trying to make sense of the changes in your health insurance so they can be the resident experts to answer your employee’s questions.
How can KASB assist your board members and district office staff with their important tasks?  The KASB Leadership staff has been busy this summer by assisting with eight new board member workshops, conducting two new board clerk trainings, numerous whole board trainings, principal evaluation trainings, numerous short term goal and expectations meetings with new superintendents and local boards.  Board leader workshops are planned the first week of August.   These workshops and trainings are designed to assist you no matter your job title.

What did you do this summer? 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Becoming a great board member

The elections are over and new board members are in place.  The next steps are to build that great team that creates a productive and focused board culture.  The following checklist may help the school board and administrative team start the conversation that leads to student success:

Great school board members have a clear vision for the district.
They set the vision and goals, and measure the success of the district against the goals

Great school board members communicate their actions to the community.
Through public discourse and written reports, great school board members keep the public informed of the district’s progress and challenges

Great school board members work as a team.
They collaborate well with others and are respectful of their fellow board members and superintendent.

Great school board members adopt a fiscally sound district budget. 
They pay attention to finances and regularly monitor the fiscal health of the district.

Great school board members focus on what is best for all students.
They focus on student achievement and implementing policies that will ensure success for all students.

Great school board members advocate at the local, state and national level for public education.
They take advantage of opportunities to communicate the needs of public schools to other levels of government and advocate for strong public schools.

There is an old saying that makes a big difference related to leading a district and a community. 

“To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together."

Find a way to work together to help each student be successful.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What is the best piece of advice you received as a new board member? (NSBA)

Several years ago NSBA asked experienced board members to share insights about their first year of service on a school board.  The following ideas may help make the transition a little more productive.

Good luck and enjoy your service to public education.
  • Get to know what your role is as a board member, develop yourself in many ways, set goals for yourself, be positive, know your limits, and above all listen. -- Jo Ann Beamer, board member, Ohio
  • Do not be in a hurry to do something. It takes time to develop governance skills. -- Jill Wynns, board member, California
  • I am only one of five voting members and not a power of one. -- Richard Asadoorian, board member, California
  • Read and learn your board policies and state law regarding school boards. -- Ginny Moe, board member, South Carolina
  • Remember, you were elected by citizens. Try to carry their voices and needs. -- Cynthia Shabb, board member, North Dakota
  • Once a decision is made you should support the decision. If you disagree, try to change the decision. -- James R Dykeman, Jr., board member, Massachusetts
  • If it is not good enough for my child, it is not good enough for any child. -- Bill Kress, board member, New York
  • Read your school state laws and codes and ask questions about anything you don't understand. -- Terisa Fitzpatrick, board member, Illinois.
  • As long as you are working in the best interest for the students, vote your conscience. -- Mary Mathes, board member, Indiana
  • Read everything and to be prepared. -- Iris Lane, board member, Virginia
  • If you feel like you are overwhelmed, you are micromanaging. -- Jim Butt, board member, Pennsylvania
  • Be respectful of the opinions and positions of your fellow board members. -- Scott M. Johnson, board member, New York
  • Your primary constituents are the students -- who do not vote. -- Charles Wilson, board member, Virginia
  • Change takes time. Start slow and build to fundamental change. -- Sheldon Wigdor, retired board member, California
  • Don't surprise your superintendent or the staff with questions at board meetings. Give them a heads up that you will be raising an issue so that they will be prepared to speak about it. -- Jeff Phillips, board member, North Carolina
  • Don't take things personally. -- Vanessa hatcher, board member, Illinois
  • Recognize the difference between policy and procedure. -- Bill Culbertson, board member, Kentucky
  • Create alliances with each board member, learn what they care about and how to present ideas to each and every person to speak to their beliefs.  -- Mary S. Cunningham, board member, Virginia
  • Vote based on facts and data, rather than getting caught up in the politics or trading votes. -- Kyle K. Walker, board member, Oregon
  • Be open to listen from all stakeholders before making up your mind. -- Raymond Eng, board member, New Jersey
  • Go to the state association certified training as soon as possible. -- Peggy Taylor, board member, Missouri
  • At Board meetings don't respond immediately to criticisms or complaints -- Kathleen Oxberry, board member, Pennsylvania
National School Boards Association

Friday, June 12, 2015


The elections are over and school boards across the state of Kansas will have organizational meetings early in July.  It is important to understand from the start that team effort and cooperation is the recipe for successful boards. Listening to patrons and staff and working with district leadership to serve students are important tasks of which board members must be mindful.  And, above all, board members must keep their focus on continuous improvement and student success.

 A Good Board Member
                 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

  • Is legally a board member only when the board of education is in session.  No one person, unless authorized, should speak on behalf of the board.
  • Avoids administrative decisions or attempts to second-guess the administration.  The superintendent is the chief administrator and the board has no administrative function.  (This is a difficult concept for some patrons and staff to comprehend so board members must be patient.)
  • Is well acquainted with school policies.
  • Should vote at all times in the best interest of children of the school district.  Quality instruction and student learning should always be first on the "agenda."
  • Is flexible and realizes there are times when changes must be made, when tradition cannot be honored, and when pressure must be ignored.
  • Remembers that board business at times requires confidentiality, especially in processes involving personnel, land acquisition, negotiations, and need for security. (Patrons and staff do not always understand this point and board members must be patient with them when they must refuse to respond to some questions.)
  • Is interested in obtaining facts, but remembers also that the administration has the responsibility for operating the schools rather than spending full time making reports to the board or an individual board member.
  • Is a good listener at board meetings, on the street corner, in the church, but NEVER commits him/herself, the board or the administration. 
  • Remembers that there is a chain of command in the district and always insists that patrons and district staff follow that chain when concerns are registered. (Patrons and staff are not always pleased to hear from a board member who tells them they must follow the chain of command when complaining or wanting to get something changed.  They will offer many excuses as to why a board member should "solve their problem" so board members must be patient but unyielding.)
  • Has a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at him/herself when things look bleak.
  • Is able to sift fact from fiction, to sort out rumors from realism and to know the difference.  A gullible board member is ineffective.
  • Is able to support a decision when it is made.
  • Is aware that if he/she has children in school or a relative who is employed by the local district that it will be imperative to work harder to follow items 1 - 12 above than a board member who does not have an relative employed by the district.

The old anecdote “we are only as good collectively as we are individually” rings true.  Be a great board member and be part of a great board team.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Board Member Workshops 2015

The past couple of weeks the KASB Leadership Services team has been on the road working with new school boards.  Stops at Manhattan, Oakley, and Sublette the last week of April and this past week at Clearwater and Greenbush.  Nearly 400 people have attended the sessions that included many administrators and mentor board members.  The topics revolve around the seven powers of a school board. 

The seven powers are really the learning objectives for the day.  Understanding these important powers allows each board to move school districts forward.

Gary Sechrist shares the importance of building a “positive” board culture.  He shares and explains the governance clock to help new board members understand the role of the board in leading the school district.  Discussions on trust, communication and teamwork help new board members understand the importance of building relationships and focusing on leadership. 

Dr. Brian Jordan presents information to new board members about the focus of leadership and student success.  Achievement drive the conversations and all attendees have departed with a better understanding of how boards help student and district graduate students ready for careers or college.

We start back up again this weekend in Hays and conclude the workshops in Topeka on June 20.  School district leaders have commented that it is a great day to learn and share ideas with other committed educational leaders.