Board of Trustees
The School Head should always attend Board meetings. But what about other key school administrators?
While the Board has only one employee—the Head—other members of the Leadership Team are critical to strategic operations. For example, while they attend Board meetings at the Head’s discretion, the Business Manager and the Development Director are particularly valuable in regard to certain Board functions.
- The Business Manager normally attends to answer pertinent financial questions and interpret financial statements with insider knowledge. He or she is also in a position of leadership in the Finance Committee, and is instrumental in implementing the strategic financial plan.
- The Development Director (often called the Advancement Director) normally attends as part of the Development Quartet (including the Board President, Development Committee Chair, and School Head). He or she acts as the professional partner for all fundraising campaigns, and structures and manages school-level development committees.
These administrators deal almost exclusively with operations and typically will not attend Board meetings. There are always exceptions to this rule, and the School Head and Board President should discuss when these exceptions apply.
There are, however, caveats to these arrangements.
- Even at a Board meeting, these administrators are employees of—and answer to—the School Head.
- They are there as resources, have no vote, and only provide relevant, factual input (rather than asserting their opinions).
- There may be times when they may be asked to leave while Trustees discuss sensitive issues.
- These positions also deal with school operations issues, which are not matters for Board conversation (e.g., personnel issues, faculty compensation, and Development Office organization and hiring of staff members).
The Business Manager and Development Director may serve on Board committees and act as skilled resources, providing advice and counsel. Just recognize their attendance at Board meetings can be seen as a dangerous invitation to get involved in operations questions and discussions that distract the Board from its true purpose—dealing with strategic plan items.
Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Trustees Vol. 13 No. 2 School Administrators at Board Meetings: Who, When, and Why
The Source for Trustees Vol. 14 No. 3 The Importance of Attending Board Meetings
Additional ISM resources for members:
I&P Vol. 40 No. 10 The Hazards of ‘Representatives’ at Board Meetings
I&P Vol. 37 No. 14 Action-Oriented Agendas for Successful Board Meetings
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