At The Board Table

At The Board Table

Intro ... 

Previous topics include:

  • Board Operating Protocols
  • Communicating Expectations with Board Candidates
  • What Message is the Board Conveying to the Public at the Board Table?
  • Have Yor Ever ... ?
  • Engaging the Non-Incumbent Board Candidate
  • Retreats, Elections, Preparing to Serve, Annual Calendar & More
  • Board Self-Assessment
  • School Board Elections 2022

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Board Operating Protocols

From the August 2022 edition of NASB's Board Notes

For many school boards and ESU boards, change will soon come with the addition of newly elected board members stepping into their new role. I have utilized this space in prior months to address the importance of engaging the non-incumbents to foster and build a positive working relationship now rather than waiting until next January. My position has not changed on this matter, it is so important to meet with the candidates to begin fostering a positive working relationship and to provide each non-incumbent with tips for preparing to serve.

A great starting point is to encourage the candidates to review the following information which may be located on the school district website:

  • Policy manual (Note: Board of Education policy section)
  • Handbooks (Activities, staff, student handbooks, etc.)
  • 6 to 12 months of board meeting agendas and minutes
  • Board code of conduct
  • Annual Board Calendar
  • Policy: Chain of Command
  • Board Protocols

If the board has adopted board protocols, this is an important resource to share with candidates and newly appointed board members. If board protocols are not in place, this may be of value as you prepare for orientation of new board members to model effective governance and procedures the board follows at the board table and between board meetings.

What are board protocols and what value will protocols serve? Think of the protocols as a set of rules or guidelines to support the governance of the board. The board utilizes the protocols to ensure order during board meetings and to utilize to ensure accountability of the members of the board.

A snip it example of board protocols:

  • Board protocols define the beliefs, values, and methods of board members working together. Successful boards are the result of effective and dynamic leadership. To promote such leadership we must agree on basic ways of working together. The manner in which the Board and Administration conduct business becomes a model throughout the district for students, teachers, parents, and staff on how problems are solved.
  • The following outlines the manner in which we agree to conduct business and maintain a positive working relationship in the best interest of students and the overall culture of the school district.

Communication

  • Superintendent to Board: The superintendent will inform the board of pertinent activities of the district. The bottom line is no surprises. The superintendent will use e-mail to communicate routine matters to the board. The board may expect such communication at least weekly. (…)
  • Board to Superintendent: Board members are encouraged to inform the superintendent of any communications they receive from district patrons, whether positive or negative in nature. This can provide valuable information to the superintendent.
  • The superintendent takes direction from the board as a whole; individual board members should refrain from making requests of the superintendent for information (except for minor explanations, clarifications, etc.) and from giving direction to the superintendent regarding district business.
  • In order to build and maintain a culture of trust, fairness, and openness, the superintendent will inform all board members of any substantial conversations with any other board members that occur outside of the regular school board setting. (…)

COMMUNICATING EXPECTATIONS WITH BOARD CANDIDATES

From the June 2022 edition of NASB's Board Notes

Did you know that the NASB is providing a series of Board Candidate Webinars to provide an overview of the board’s role and responsibilities? There are three webinars currently scheduled for July, September, and October, with the plan to add two more during September and October. We will alert Superintendents, ESU Administrators, and board presidents as soon as the dates are confirmed.

Tips for engaging with the Board Candidates (Non-Incumbents)

  • Download and share policy:
    • Board Code of Conduct (or Code of Ethics) - This policy provides a job description to support the role of the board.
    • Superintendent Job Description - This policy provides a general understanding of the superintendent/ESU Administrator

THE SUPERINTENDENT’S JOB DESCRIPTION

Policy #???? The administration of the school system in all aspects is the responsibility of the Superintendent, whose functions shall be conducted in accordance with the policies of
the Board.

BOARD – SUPERINTENDENT RELATIONSHIP

Policy B-1050: “The establishment of policies is the responsibility of the Board, and the execution of those policies is a function of the Superintendent.”

Guidelines to Remember:

  • Effective board members are professional in their behavior and conduct.
  • Effective boards engage in deliberation, work to find common ground, listen without judgment, and realize if they are dysfunctional, it will impact staff and students.
  • Board-Superintendent leadership teams must work together toward a common vision and goals.
  • Regular communication between the board members and the superintendent is essential.

DUTIES OF THE SCHOOL BOARD & SUPERINTENDENT

The superintendent functions as the administrative manager of the district and is, throughout his or her exercise of responsibilities, accountable to the board. 


WHAT MESSAGE IS THE BOARD CONVEYING TO THE PUBLIC AT THE BOARD TABLE?

From the May 2022 edition of NASB's Board Notes

For those of you that know me well, my cup is always half full. Therefore, I believe that in every school district across the state non-incumbent candidates are currently attending board meetings, engaging with board members and the superintendent, and he/she aspires to serve to improve and grow education for the students in the school district.

If this vision of mine is real and he/she/they are attending board meetings, what observations do they take away from the meeting?

How much time is the board devoting during the regular board meeting discussing and addressing the improvement and growth of student learning?

Do the board and administration celebrate success? If so, how is that message relayed to the public?

What do non-incumbents perceive their role to be as a board member?

Boards and superintendents that model this form of effective board governance and purposeful leadership are actively engaged in growing in their respective roles. This does not happen by chance, it does mean taking the time to participate in professional development, NASB workshops, conferences, etc. However, when attendance is a challenge for the board, there is a way to bring board development to the board.

A starting point may be a board retreat.

The purpose could be to review, discuss, and consider the proper role and responsibilities of the board and the working relationship with the superintendent.

Besides a board retreat focused on the board-superintendent working relationship, board self-assessment provides a starting point for purposeful conversations for addressing effective board governance. Through a board self-assessment you enable each board member to self-reflect on their contributions and role among their peers on the board. The self-assessment also allows the board to evaluate the cohesive and collective impact as a board working in lockstep with your superintendent to improve student learning in your school district. The outcome of a board self-assessment enables the board to isolate areas of growth, set goals, and prioritize action steps to support the goals.

Next step, integrate the review and discussion of the board selfassessment into your regular board meeting agenda.

Each month the board will set aside time to discuss one Standard within the assessment. The brief discussion can be utilized to better inform the public of the board’s role and responsibilities, provides
authentic data on how well the board measures up to the NASB Board Governance Standards, and most important the opportunity to discuss what the board is actively doing to address the improvement
of a Standard when identified as an area of growth. The NASB Board Leadership team will work with the board president/superintendent to provide resources to support the board meeting agenda item.

There is so much more to serving on the board of education than showing up for a monthly board meeting, but unfortunately, from the public’s view it may appear that it is this simple. When the message portrayed at the board table is focused on trivial matters, personal agendas, and random topics that fail to address the true purpose of improving and growing instruction and learning, we are sending the message to the public and quite possibly the non-incumbent that change is needed.

Pause and reflect, what message is the board conveying to the public? If there is a need for change, or if the focus and work of the board is in lockstep with administration and board meetings are purposefully focused, take the next step and measure the board’s success through a board self-assessment, I promise the results will fill your cup. “You only get out what you put in. Do not expect more until you do more.” ~Anonymous


Have You Ever ... ?

From the April 2022 edition of NASB's Board Notes

Have You Ever … ?

Engaged the public, patrons, or stakeholders through alternative methods besides the board meeting and/or public comment? How are you fostering a working relationship with community stakeholders? Engaging and connecting with community members provides the opportunity for stakeholders to voice their thoughts and ideas related to the long-term vision and direction of the school district. A purposeful conversation and setting through this form of engagement ensures the discussion is focused upon issues related to students, the learning environment, and the identity of the graduate as they embark upon a career or their post-secondary education.

Public Comment is important and presents a proper channel for community members to address the board; however, the setting does not support engagement or discussion. If this is the only connection the board provides patrons, there may be cause or a connection to growing frustration within the community. In this era of accountability and heightened interest in the board/school district, this is the optimum time for the board to shape and strengthen the public image of the school district by building a positive working relationship with internal and external stakeholders. Community engagement can influence public policy decisions on any number of issues. It can span the range from simply providing the public with valuable information to gaining and requesting a full collaboration in forming plans and
finding solutions for identified public issues. In every case, it places value on an ongoing conversation, involvement and the common good.


Engaging the Non-Incumbent Board Candidate

From the March 2022 edition of NASB's Board Notes

What are your plans to engage the non-incumbent(s)? Who are these individuals who have filed for election to the board of education in your school district or Educational Service Unit?

NASB recommends that the Superintendent/ESU Administrator and Board President:

  • Develop a plan to engage and foster a positive working relationship from day one between the non-incumbent and the office of superintendent/ESU Administrator
  • Initiate communication by connecting first with the County Clerk or Election Commissioner’s Office to ensure you have a complete list of the individuals who have filed, the proper spelling of each candidate’s name and mailing address
  • Contact the individual(s) to welcome them to the board and express appreciation for their interest of serving public education.
    • Message from the board president: Example language courtesy of Matt Pawloski, Pleasanton Board President: “Congratulations on your decision to seek election to the (name) Board of Education! School board members are entrusted with a unique and formidable responsibility of providing sufficient opportunities and supporting educational achievement for all students. I will make myself available for any questions you might have, and keep you informed with updates of Board Candidate Webinars provided by the NASB and the New Board Member Workshop later this year. We invite you to attend our Regular Monthly Board Meetings which are held at the district office on the second Monday of each month starting at 7:00 p.m. Please review our website for more information. Once more, I can genuinely appreciate your decision and I thank you for your willingness to serve public education.”
  • Invite the new board member to the district office to meet staff and tour the district facilities.
    • Materials you may wish to share with the board candidate:
      • Board Code of Conduct
      • Annual Board Calendar
      • Link to www.NASBonline.org
      • Dates for the NASB Board Candidate Webinars and New Board Member Workshops
    • Extend an invite to the upcoming board meeting and share a link to the board meeting agenda

NASB WORKING ALONGSIDE OUR MEMBERS

It is important that a newly elected board member embarks upon their board service equipped to serve as a member of the board, for which NASB provides extensive learning opportunities. The
design of our learning workshops are focused upon effective board governance and best practice through both learning and networking. NASB hosts a number of Board Candidate Webinars between the May and November elections, as well as New Board Member Workshops in December following the November election.


RETREATS, ELECTIONS, PREPARING TO SERVE, ANNUAL CALENDAR & MORE

From the February 2022 edition of NASB's Board Notes

2022 NASB PRESIDENT RETREAT

We would like to extend our immense thanks and appreciation to each of the attendees who attended and participated in this year’s President Retreat. We appreciate the positive feedback and look forward to the opportunities to support the leadership

2022 BOARD ELECTIONS
The incumbent deadline to file for office has now passed. The deadline for non-incumbents who are interested in filing is March 1. Of course, those that miss or change their mind may consider a write-in-campaign to secure their seat on the board. The filing deadline as a primary write-in candidate is May 2, and the General write-in candidate deadline will be October 28.

PREPARING TO SERVE
This NASB Board Leadership publication is designed to provide basic information for individuals interested in serving on a school board, educational service unit board, or learning community council. The rewards of board service can be an enormously fulfilling experience; however, achievement of success can only be derived when boards plan for success, work collaboratively as a leadership team, and unite during times of challenge. You may download a copy of Preparing To Serve or contact Marcia at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2022 NASB ANNUAL BOARD CALENDAR
Click here to download your copy of the 2022 NASB Annual Board Calendar or email Katie Coble at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Each school district and ESU will receive two copies along with the 2022 NASB Membership Guide special delivery by NASB staff.

BOARD SELF-ASSESSMENT
A board that aspires to operate effectively will periodically engage in some form of self-assessment. Conducting a self-assessment is an opportunity for the board to evaluate how well it is functioning as a body while enabling the board-superintendent leadership team to determine areas of improvement to operate more effectively in the future. It is important that expectations and standards on how to improve the team’s practices and behaviors are clearly articulated during this process. The NASB Board Leadership team will administer the Board Self-Assessment on behalf of the board. We will:

  • work collaboratively with the board to define an assessment timeline
  • distribute the link to the board to complete the self-assessment
  • send reminders to board members who have not completed the assessment prior to the deadline
  • compile the feedback
  • develop an Executive Summary highlighting board strengths and areas of need
  • distribute the assessment reports to the board president

Each year, the board is provided with a comparative board self-assessment report to provide comparative data measuring growth of leadership. To learn more about the NASB Board Self-Assessment, or to obtain a copy of the NASB Board Self-Assessment Handbook, please contact Katie Coble at 800-422-4572 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Board Self-Assessment

From the January 2022 edition of NASB's Board Notes

Many boards review the superintendent evaluation summary in November or December. Now that the board has checked the task as complete, the Association advocates for the board to administer a board-self assessment. The board that expects to operate effectively will periodically engage in some form of reflection. Conducting a board self-assessment is an opportunity for the board to evaluate how well it is functioning as a body while also focusing on the board-superintendent working relationship as well. The assessment will assist in the identification of strengths and areas of improvement. The board must consider ensuring that board members are unilaterally engaged and serve to improve and grow learning for all students.

PRINCIPLES OF BOARD SELF-ASSESSMENT

  • Assures the board is accountable
  • Enables each board member to look within
  • Improves communication
  • Provides an outlet to address concerns pertaining to the board’s role and responsibilities
  • Presents an opportunity for growth of leadership and work with the superintendent

Should the board decide to complete a Board Self-Assessment, the Association provides a tool and will administer it through the Online Survey Service. The Board Leadership staff will:

  • Work collaboratively with the board president to establish an assessment timeline that best aligns with the board’s schedule
  • Distribute a link to each board member to complete the assessment
  • Allow a ten-day period for board members to complete the assessment
  • Send gentle reminders to board members who have not yet completed their assessment
  • Develop a summary report and forward to the board for review

Following the review of the assessment, the board will isolate two to three areas of growth and develop goals and successful strategies for how the board will measure progress in the areas of need.


School Board Elections 2022

From the December 2021 edition of NASB's Board Notes

In Nebraska, school board election procedures vary depending on school district classification. Under Nebraska Revised Statute §79-102, Nebraska’s public schools are classified as follows:

  • Class III - any district embracing territory having a population of less than 150,000 that maintains both elementary and high school grades under the direction of a single school board. [§79-102(1)]
  • Class IV - any district embracing territory having a population of 100,000 or more with a city of the primary class within the territory of the district that maintains both elementary and high school grades under the direction of a single school board. [§79-102(2)]
  • Class V - any district whose employees participate in a retirement system established pursuant to the Class V School Employees Retirement Act and which embraces territory having a city of the metropolitan class within the territory of the district that maintains both elementary grades and high school grades under the direction of a single school board and any school district with territory in a city of the metropolitan class created pursuant to the Learning Community Reorganization Act and designated as a Class V school district in the reorganization plan. [§79-102(3)]

What Do I Need to Know? Contact your local school district or ESU office to inquire about the availability of all forms necessary to file for office. The following lists the election process based on your
district’s classification.

Class III Districts: (Except Westside Community Schools)

  • 5 to 9 members on a board [§79-549 or §79-550]
  • The school board must notify the Secretary of State, county clerk, or election commissioner of offices to be filled, term, vacancies, votes to cast, and filing deadlines for each office by Jan 5. [§32-404 and §32-601]
  • SBMs are nominated at the Statewide Primary Election (May 10) and elected at the Statewide General Election (Nov 8)
  • Incumbents must file for office by Feb 15. [§32-606]
  • Non-Incumbents must file for office by Mar 1. [§32-606]

Class IV Districts:

  • SBMs nominated and elected by city council district and at the same time as city council members are elected [§32-544]
  • SBMs serve 4-year terms [§32-544]
  • The school board must notify the Secretary of State, county clerk, or election commissioner of offices to be filled, term, vacancies, votes to cast, and filing deadlines for each office by Jan 5. [§32-404 and §32-601]
  • SBMs are nominated at the Statewide Primary Election (May 10) and elected at the Statewide General Election (Nov 8)
  • Incumbents must file for office by Feb 15. [§32-606]
  • Non-Incumbents must file for office by Mar 1. [§32-606]

Class V Districts:

  • One member elected from each of 9 districts [§32-552]
  • SBMs serve 4-year terms [§32-551(2)]
  • The school board must notify the Secretary of State, county clerk, or election commissioner of offices to be filled, term, vacancies, votes to cast, and filing deadlines for each office by Jan 5. [§32-404 and §32-601]
  • SBMs are nominated at the Statewide Primary Election (May 10) and elected at the Statewide General Election (Nov 8)
  • Incumbents must file for office by Feb 15. (§32-606)
  • Non-Incumbents must file for office by Mar 1. (§32-606)

Educational Service Units:

  • The number of board members and the district each member represents vary for ESUs and are dependent on factors outlined in §79-1217.
  • The ESU board must notify the Secretary of State, County Clerk, or Election Commissioner of offices to be filled, term, vacancies, votes to cast, and filing deadlines for each office by June 15. [§32-404 and §32-601]
  • Election of members only at Statewide General Election (Nov 8)
  • Incumbents must file for office by July 15. [§32-606]
  • Non-Incumbents must file for office by Aug 1. [§32-606]

For Additional Election Information Please see the Nebraska Secretary of State website for:


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For more information on all things Board Leadership, please contact:

Marcia Herring - Director of Board Leadership - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Katie Coble - Board Leadership Associate - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Caden Frank - Board Leadership Associate - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Kari Stephens - Board Leadership Associate - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Spencer Vogt - Board Leadership Data Analyst - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Nebraska Association of School Boards
1311 Stockwell Street - Lincoln, NE 68502
402-423-4951 - 800-422-4572