Structure from a board perspective

Folks,
I actually forgot to post this when I finished it so I did not want the series to be incomplete.

As I stated last month, here is part two of my look at School Boards Standards, and how our school board association and local board members should be assessing themselves against each of these standards. Again, I have gone on the internet and looked at the standards of other states to see how they define what is important concerning standards. Using those from Alaska, Pennsylvania, and finally our own state’s association as guidelines, let us look at the next critical standard:

Standard 2: Structure
A school board establishes an organizational structure and creates an environment designed to ensure all students the opportunity to attain their maximum potential. Stated another way, the board provides the structure that fully supports its vision of education.

The Microsoft College dictionary has five different breakdowns of the word, and the first says “something built or erected a building….or other object that has been put together from many different parts.” In addition, it refers to “something so that it works as a cohesive whole.” What a way to describe a school district and its board as both are put together from many different groups functioning to provide many different educational parts for the children. Those groups include community members, parents, board members, administrators, and teachers, and support staff. Together, all provide the backbone or building blocks of the school, and each a stakeholder is a part in whether the children fail or succeed. As school board members, we are the elected members of the community given the responsibility of setting the guidelines and policies, and providing the resources needed to bolster the structure needed for the 21st century. The administrators and teachers who use them set curriculum, which is the final cornerstone of the structure that is the community’s school!
Let us look at the “bricks” used in the structure that boards are responsible for as they are guided by the vision they have set. First, without a good physical plant there would not be a conducive, safe environment for teachers and students to teach and learn together. Having provided the arena, the board then must establish an organizational framework that provides for, and determines the responsibilities of the staff from the superintendent to the bus drivers. Having established the hierarchy, a board then needs to set policies for hiring and maintaining a staff that will work with stakeholders on achieving the vision using the limited resources of today.

With the “footings” laid, a board needs to work with parents and community leaders to set instructional standards for the type and level of skills the students must have to meet the communities’ needs in the future. Policies based on these needs are then written so that teachers and educators can offer innovative and continuous improvement in methods for meeting high instructional standards. Additionally, the board needs to work with the community to assure funding to provide the curriculum, programs supplies, opportunities, and support for meeting these high instructional standards.

Finally, a board uses data gathered from all these sources to help it review the structure it establishes, and to make changes to it as required insuring it meets not only the vision but also legal requirements with which it is charged
While working on this review of Structure, I came across a thought that was generated by my reading Gary Marx’s “Sixteen Trends-Their Profound Impact on our Future.” The author had a quote that was about Nations, but it is just as true about school boards and our association:

“Unless a board considers the needs of its stakeholders, it might not truly represent them. Not listening, not staying in touch, can lead to instability, as conflict overcomes consensus. Lack of appreciation for diversity can also lead to an ‘us and them’ society, which might become divided against itself. A lack of stability internally raises questions about reliability externally, and could cause breakdowns in relationships with other stakeholders. We are not talking about stability that is imposed by a forceful leadership. Instead, we’re talking about the stability that comes from inclusive leadership that is directly connected to the common good.”

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About Gary M Wolfe

The Author spent 10 years as a member of the Milford Delaware Board Of Education, and is currently seeking the 18th Senatorial seat in the Delaware Legislature.
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