What is the role of the School Board?
The school board is a policy making body that governs the school district as officials elected by the citizens of our community. In our “ownership” role, we are responsible for establishing standards of operation and most importantly, identifying what all of our students should know and be able to do upon graduation. We hire and direct the Superintendent to achieve our standards and Results. In fact, he is evaluated based on our rigorous monitoring of both those functions.
What happens at Board Meetings?
Board meetings are held in public, but are not public meetings. The business of the board meetings mainly includes examining compliance with our operational standards and data based evidence monitoring of student achievement progress.
What are the different kinds of Board Meetings?
Regular Meetings: These meetings are the most common and where most of the board’s business is conducted. We strive to spend at least 50% of our time talking about student achievement, and prioritize this by placing student results at the top of the agenda. All of the board business is directly tied to our governing policies referenced within the agenda. (Additional copies of the Board’s policies are available at all meetings). In addition, we report on board activity since the prior meeting, and are updated by the Superintendent on his/her work.
The Board can take action at three points: Board Action Items, Board Consent Agenda, and Superintendent Consent Agenda. Action Items generally include issues that require additional discussion. Consent agenda items include actions such as accepting resignations, appointing employees, accepting minutes of previous meetings, approving business reports, approving employee contracts, etc.
The Board thoroughly reviews agenda items before they go to a meeting. Supporting documentation is provided and questions can be asked of the administration in advance of the meeting so that Board members are prepared to take action at the meeting.
Closed Meetings: Closed meetings are an “executive session” that, by statute, is not open to the public. Topics that legally can be addressed include: personnel and employment, consideration of personal information, and conferring legal counsel with respect to litigation (a full explanation is available Wisconsin Statute 19.85(1). With certain limited exceptions, no official action can be taken on issues discussed in executive session without first returning to open session.
Public Hearing: Certain school matters, such as the budget adoption, tax exemptions, and changes to certain plans or policies require a public hearing. These meetings are advertised and we encourage public participation and dialogue.
Why does the Board use a consent agenda format?
By using the consent agenda format, Board members take action on agenda items in one motion, rather than having individual motions for each item. Board members do, however, have the option to remove items from the consent agenda, by a vote of a majority of the members, if discussion about an item is required or if the Board wishes to highlight a particular action. A consent agenda streamlines the meeting, and provides for better use of time allowing us to focus on students and their achievement.
Why doesn’t the Board always discuss agenda items in public before taking action?
The Board reviews many agenda items before they go to a meeting and vote on them. Supporting documentation is provided and questions are asked of the administration in advance of the meeting so that Board members are prepared to take action. Because Board Members “do their homework,” in advance of the meeting, many times discussion on items is not required.
Why does the Board sometimes refer the community to administrators to handle a concern?
As stated previously, the Board directs all operations and student outcomes through carefully articulated policy values. It is the administrators who are held accountable for complying with those policies. A chain of command exists in school districts as it does in many organizations. It is important that concerns be addressed by the person closest to the source before going to the Board.
How can I participate in Board Meetings?
At every public Board of Education meeting, the public is invited to comment during Public Comments. Visitors are asked, upon being recognized by the Board President, to introduce themselves, state their address, identify the organization they are representing (if any), and the nature of their comments. Visitors are asked to keep their comments to 5 minutes.
The Board normally will refrain from responding until they have had an opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on what you have said. If comments require follow-up or a response from the Board, appropriate action or follow-up will be taken. Concerns regarding operations may be referred to the superintendent for follow-up, and the Board will be informed of that resolution.
The Board President may establish other time limits and guidelines for presentations and comments. Personnel complaints will not be taken in our meetings and should be addressed to the teacher/administrator or superintendent.
What If I Have A Question Or Want Some Information?
The school’s administrative staff is capable of handling most questions and requests for information. Matters relating to an individual school or teacher should be directed to the principal of that building. You are always welcome to contact the Superintendent’s Office, and they can direct you to the right person. And you are welcome to contact school board members directly. Their contact information is available here: http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=2472.
What do the Board Members do in addition to attending Board meetings?
Each of our Board members is truly passionate about their role. Board members spend considerable additional personal time to obtain professional training related to their governance role and learn about successful and unsuccessful practices of other districts.
Board members also participate in Linkage meetings throughout the year, which are an opportunity for board members to meet with and hear from a broad base of constituents around topics of relevance to our students’ reasonable progress and preparation for success. The Linkage Meeting schedule can be found here: http://www.shorewood.k12.wi.us/page.cfm?p=4081