11 Clues You Have an Effective Small School Board

Jun 16, 2021

To say that schools have gone through a lot in the past 18 months is an understatement!! It has been a challenging time for so many, and for various reasons. Many small schools, which are greatly impacted by shifts in enrollment, finances, and other resources, have struggled. Yet, the small schools with the MOST effective boards have managed the best.

As board members, we want to feel confident that our efforts are effective in supporting our schools. Yet how do we know?

Here are 11 clues:

  1. Your school is programmatically and financially thriving.
  2. Your board membership reflects the diversity (in all of its forms) of your school and community and provides the skills, perspectives, and competencies needed to make informed, strategic decisions.
  3. There is a culture of engagement within the board with norms that are respectful and inclusive and a climate where board members feel valued, involved, and engaged in meaningful work.
  4. Your board sets specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant long-range, annual, committee, and meeting goals and holds itself accountable for achieving them.
  5. There are established and regularly followed procedures for facilitating board and committee meetings to ensure they are goal-oriented, topic-focused, and efficient. There is a process to ensure that sufficient time is spent in meetings engaged in generative and strategic conversations. 
  6. The board utilizes committees to effectively and efficiently conduct the preparation for its work.
  7. There is regular, respectful, and honest communication between the head and the board, and the board supports the professional performance and the personal wellbeing of the head. 
  8. Board members understand the roles and responsibilities of a board governor and how these differ from leadership and operations. The board spends most of its time engaged in governance activities, supporting operations only at the request of the head.
  9. The full board engages in regular, strategic oversight and foresight of the school’s finances such that the school is financially stable and sustainable. 
  10. Board members actively and strategically engage in both development (friend-raising) and fundraising activities.
  11. The board participates in professional development activities regularly. 

Boards need to focus strategically on the practices that will enable them to be effective in all of these areas. How effective is your small school board?


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