South Lane School District
2016-2017 School Board Operating Agreement
For the purpose of enhancing teamwork among members of the Board and between the Board and the administration, we, the members of the School District Leadership Team (board and superintendent) do hereby publicly commit collectively and individually to the following operating protocol:
1. Kids Come First! The Board will represent the needs and interests of ALL the students in the district when making decisions and setting goals and policies for the District.
2. Clearly State Goals. The Board will set clear goals for themselves and the Superintendent. The Board and Superintendent will set clear goals for the District.
3. Exemplify the Governance Role. The Leadership Team will support the policies our district currently has in place. We will continue to study and review selected policies for effectiveness and appropriately engage key stakeholders in the development or deletion of policies and policy revisions. We will maintain and apply district policies consistently while being cognizant of and recognizing the potential uniqueness of any given situation. Policy BBA Board Powers and Duties carefully describes the governance role of the Board.
4. Don’t Spring Surprises on other board members or the Superintendent. Surprises to the Board or the Superintendent will be the exception, not the rule. There should be no surprises at a board meeting. We agree to ask the Board Chair or the Superintendent to place an item on the agenda instead of bringing it up unexpectedly at a meeting.
5. Communication between staff and the Board is encouraged as long as it follows board policy. The Leadership Team recognizes that “good,” “timely,” “open,” and “consistent,” communication regarding school district issues is extremely important. We will strive to anticipate issues, which may become important or are sensitive to our school and district stakeholders. Policy BG Board-Staff Communication states, “the basic line of communication will be through the Superintendent.”
6. Follow the Chain of Command. The last stop, not the first, will be the board. We agree to follow the chain of command and insist that others do so. While the Board is eager to listen to its constituents and staff, each inquiry is to be referred to the person who can properly and expeditiously address the issue (Policy KL). Board requests that will likely require considerable time or have political implications are to be directed to the Superintendent. All personnel complaints and criticisms received by the Board or its individual members will be directed to the Superintendent. Policy BBAA Individual Board Member’s Authority and Responsibilities states, “When board members receive complaints or requests for action from staff, students or members of the public, such information is to be conveyed to the Superintendent for action.” Policy BBF Board Member Ethics states, “Refer complaints, comments and criticisms directly to the superintendent.”
7. Own the Collective Decision Making Process. Once the Board makes a decision, the Leadership Team will support the decision. Policy BBF Board Member Ethics states, “Understand the Board makes decisions as a team. Individual Board Members may not commit the Board to any action (#5); Respect the decisions of the Board (#14).”
8. Annually Conduct a Self-Assessment/Evaluation. The Board will address its behavior by yearly self-evaluation and by addressing itself to any individual problems, such as poor meeting attendance or leaks of confidential information.
9. Utilize Superintendent Input. The Superintendent is the Chief Executive Officer of the Leadership Team and should make recommendations, proposals or suggestions on most matters that come before the board. Policy BBF Board Member Ethics states, “Recognize that the Superintendent is the Board’s Advisor, and take action only after hearing the Superintendent’s recommendations (#7).”
10. Board Acts in a Unified Manner. Individual board members do not have authority. Only the Board as a whole has authority. We agree that an individual board member will not take unilateral action. The Board Chair will communicate the position(s) of the Board on controversial issues. When board members serve on various committees, their role shall first be defined by the Board.
11. Board Meeting Protocol. Conduct at a board meeting is very important. We desire to have a legacy of a well-functioning, effective board. We agree to avoid words and actions that create a negative impression on an individual, the Board, or the District. We will be open-minded and willing to “deeply listen” to all speakers/presenters. We agree that we can disagree and will do so using common courtesy and respect for others. We will not react to impromptu complaints on the spot, but will assure individuals that the District will follow-up. Policy BDDH Public Participation in Board Meetings provides further details to this agreement.
12. Strive for Efficient Board Meetings. To be efficient and effective, long board meetings should be avoided. Individual board members should state their opinions clearly and concisely and should allow for others to share as well. Individual board members should not dominate discussion on a particular topic, and should be eager to hear other opinions. If a board member believes s/he doesn’t have enough information, or has questions, they should call the Superintendent or Board Chair prior to the meeting. Board meetings are for decision-making, action and votes, not endless discussion. We agree to move to the question when discussion becomes repetitive (Policy BDDC and BDDH).
13. Speak to Agenda Items Only. The Board shall not play to the audience. We agree to speak to the issues on the agenda and attend to our fellow board members. Facts and information needed from the administration will be referred to the Superintendent.
14. Executive Sessions will be held only for appropriate subjects and when the specific need arises. Board members will follow all legal requirements and Board Policy BDC on Executive Sessions.
Board Chair Sherry Duerst-Higgins Superintendent Krista Parent
Board Member Tammy Hodgkinson Board Member Alan Baas
Board Member Merlene Martin Board Member Gary Mort
Board Member Jerry Settelmeyer Board Member Taylor Wilhour