With any employer/employee relationship, there are paper and electronic files that must be maintained. Just as your school should have a policy on what is contained in an employee’s file and who will maintain it, your Board must do the same for its sole employee—the School Head.
Community and business leaders, revered alumni, and distinguished individuals are often asked to serve on Advisory Boards. Most such Boards are essentially honorific—established by schools to keep in contact with people whose names, experience, and funds can be of assistance on occasion. Members might include Trustees who have served your school long and faithfully, major donors of the past, and people of outstanding talent who may refuse full Board membership.
Despite the form and membership of the Advisory Board, the potential for good or bad is about the same. Members of such groups must be constantly cultivated and their ideas solicited. If this does not happen, the Advisory Board becomes meaningless, the “honor” nonexistent, and feelings turn negative. In fact, this is the prevailing pattern at many schools. Use the following strategies to avoid this pitfall.
Board members are ultimately responsible for the financial stability of the school, and part of their due diligence requires them to develop a strategic financial plan and a complementary budget. Trustees must keep tabs on budgetary issues, to ensure the strategic financial plan is progressing. However, actual budgets may not always jibe with the projected budgets developed by the Finance Committee. For this reason, the Business Office should provide frequent reports to the Finance Committee.
When it comes to evaluating the School Head, many Boards simply avoid the process. Their rationale is, “Everything’s fine! Why take on another time-consuming, bureaucratic task?” In other schools, the Board President distributes an all-purpose leadership ratings form of some sort, tallies the results, and sets up a meeting with the Head to make a few suggestions. Neither tactic proves helpful for the School Head looking for direction and support.
So, why go to all the trouble of setting up a true evaluation process—forming a Head Support and Evaluation Committee (HSEC), determining criteria and method, putting it into practice, and fine-tuning it yearly as ISM suggests? Here are five key reasons.
Sometimes a change in school leadership is the result of an abrupt rupture in the relationship between the Board and the School Head. In such a situation, the Board must act quickly to reassure all constituencies there will be a graceful transition.
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