The Basics of Your Board’s Summer Retreat

Vol. 16 No. 10

trustees eletter vol16 no10 summerretreat

Your Board must avoid getting bogged down in day-to-day decisions and obligations. It cannot lose sight of its primary responsibility—to maintain the essential character and integrity of the school and ensure that it remains viable to serve the children of today’s students. An annual Board retreat provides the opportunity to devote a day specifically to planning for the future.

ISM has long recommended an early summer retreat—but the best time of the year is whenever you can assure the best possible attendance. If that happens to be early fall for your Trustees, so be it!

A well-planned and goal-centered experience can rejuvenate your Board, build commitment and teamwork, and refocus the members on the task ahead. This is also the best time to orient and integrate your new members. More benefits of a summer Board retreat include the opportunities to:

  • create the annual Board agenda for the next 12 months;
  • examine and rank the top two or three challenges facing the Board, and identify strategies for resolving them;
  • review your committee structure and discuss how to enhance it;
  • review Board policies and address any changes required;
  • think through the Board’s relationships with the School Head, the Parent Association, the Leadership Team, and other constituencies;
  • assess your school’s long-term facilities and property needs;
  • determine your need for and start planning a major gifts program or a capital campaign; and
  • above all, review your Board’s basic purposes. This recommitment to its historic reason(s) for existing, coupled with any needed modifications, is the foundation on which future decisions rest.

A well-executed annual Board retreat serves as one of the key ingredients in fortifying the focus and quality of your Board’s overall function and effectiveness. Always keep in mind the eventual beneficiaries of your heightened Board-level focus will be the students—both current and future—who experience the strengthened programs and facilities that result.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Trustees Vol. 14 No. 10 Planning Your Annual Summer Board Retreat
The Source for Trustees Vol. 15 No. 7 Five Steps to Creating Your Board’s Strategic History

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 41 No. 4 Your Summer New-Trustee Orientation and Planning Session
I&P Vol. 42 No. 11 Setting Your Annual Agenda

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