How to Prepare for Your Next Board Meeting
Vol. 16 No. 3
All School Heads face the same dichotomy when it comes to the Board. You are the Board’s sole employee and are expected to receive direction from its members. Yet, you are the person in the school each day, working with your administrators, faculty, and staff, and the Board looks to you to be a guide for what’s working and what’s not.
Board meetings are times when the whole Board comes together. Each meeting is the perfect time to help influence the Board’s operations and demonstrate your skill as a leader. Preparing effectively for each Board meeting is essential.
Distribute a written report to all Trustees before every Board meeting. It should include recent accomplishments by students and faculty, highlighting the achievements of the school under your leadership. For example, spotlight a teacher who is doing something compelling with the curriculum or has recently pursued an exemplary professional growth initiative.
You should also showcase students who demonstrate excellence both inside and outside the classroom. Look to your Leadership Team and faculty to call out outstanding successes and interesting pursuits. However, try to focus on triumphs that aren’t highly visible and already widely known (such as athletic achievements). Make a list of the wonderful things that have occurred in your school in the past two to three weeks and include them in your report.
In addition to highlighting successes under your leadership, your report provides information to the Board that allows them to describe your school’s excellence in action. Trustees will lean on these stories as they act as school ambassadors within your community.
Negative news has no place in this report. Handle such concerns with the Board Chair, appropriate committees, or other individuals as needed. Explaining nuances orally and being able to ask and answer questions helps prevent miscommunication when it comes to negative messages.
A well-crafted written report sent to the Board before each meeting should be part of your preparation. Be ready to respond to questions and comments during the meeting. Of course, there will invariably be things you didn’t think of when you put 15–20 dedicated and emotionally involved people in a room together.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to say that you will look into the matter and come back with an answer. Send your response in a follow-up email, ensuring that you include the entire Board on the communication.
Effective preparation for each meeting certainly helps you answer questions and anticipate need. Brush up on the ins and outs of your school’s enrollment policies, operational procedures, and newest enhancements.
One strategy we’ve seen is for the School Head to keep a notebook containing information about every Board meeting. Carry this notebook to each meeting, recording the date, pressing matters, to-dos, and follow ups for the next meeting. You can also choose to keep this information electronically by carrying a laptop and keeping notes in a Google Doc or Word file. This ensures all of your information is kept in a central place and can be referred to year after year.
Knowing what resonates with the Board is vital. Prepare effectively for each Board meeting to illustrate your efficient leadership and continue driving your school's success.
Additional Resources for ISM Members:
I&P Vol. 41 No. 12 Refocus Your Board Agenda and Your Board Minutes