Thursday, April 9, 2015

School Boards and Baseball, Play Ball!

The election results are in, and some of you will have new faces around the table. Now that we know who will be at the board table July 1, it's time to start the process of building a new board team with the new and experienced board members.

Admittedly I am not a huge baseball fan, but I do like following the Royals, and there are some similar parallels between Spring training in baseball and the transition that occurs when new board members are elected to the local school board. Regardless of past seasons' successes or failures of a baseball team, Spring training for baseball teams provides an opportunity for teams to set the stage for the upcoming season's success through the acquisition of new team members or the development of skills with existing team members.

Your school board has a culture that has been built through training, experience, education, and on-going communication, hopefully resulting in successes over the past two years since the last election. Every two years as a board goes through some transitions related to the election cycle, it makes sense to "revisit" our school board culture and set the stage for success in the coming years for your school district.

Setting the stage for this success starts with developing the new school board members' skills and knowledge, revisiting our focus as a school board and taking stock of our board culture - good or bad. Revisiting the board's culture will not only benefit current board members, but assist those new board members in their transition.  

Developing the new board members is an important step in enhancing the school board culture and given them the opportunity to reach their fullest potential as school board members. In our experience new board members are excited about “making a difference” in their new role.  Most new board members have good intentions related to serving the students in their district. Their struggles almost always revolve around learning how school boards work and their role on the board team.  The following list represents some of the questions and anxieties that might be associated with their new duties:

  •  Will I be welcome?
  •  Will I be equally included?
  •  What is happening in the district now?
  •  Who are these people? Can I trust them?
  •  What is the job?
  •  How do I get my ideas on the agenda?
  •  Will my ideas be accepted?
  •  How can I do things “right”?
  •  What are the expectations of how the team members work together?
  •  How will things change?
  •  What if we don’t like each other?
  •  Are my needs going to be met?

Current board members along with the new board members can benefit from some reflection on these questions. When a new team is formed it is important that time is allotted to discuss the “nuts and bolts,” or fundamentals of how the school board team works.  The new board member workshops this Spring will allow new members and experienced board members a chance to understand boards in general, but also revisit their current school board team culture and set the stage for future success.

Our experience has been that effective boards are built on the concepts of good communication, trust among board members that individual intentions are focused on the right work, and relationships among members.  New team members may experience issues with inclusion and isolation, which are associated with change. The transition time for new board members into the new board team depends on the willingness of experienced board members to be open, welcoming and supportive of changes.

Take the time to develop the new team. It will be time well spent. We hope to see new and experienced board members at the New Board Member Workshops this Spring to start the building of the team. Play Ball!

New Board Member Workshops:
  • April 28 Manhattan
  • April 29 Oakley
  • April 30 Sublette
  • May 6 Clearwater
  • May 7 Girard/Greenbush
  • May 30 Hays
  • June 20 Topeka/KASB

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