Policy - 1105 Operating Principles for the Board/Administration

Last Revised on December 16, 2013

Proposal - Delete Policy

Adopted 3/28/94


Operating principles define the beliefs, values, and methods of working together. Successful organizations are the result of effective and dynamic leadership. To assure quality operations, leaders must agree on basic ways of working together.

Recognizing that individuals are unique and important will enhance our operating principles and develop a high level of organizational self-esteem and confidence. The manner in which the School Board and administration conduct their business becomes a model throughout the District for students, teachers, parents, and staff on how problems are solved.

Judgment and Trust

The complexities of operating a School Corporation cannot be fully addressed in policy, procedures, or operating principles. Working with people and handling difficult and controversial issues on a daily basis requires good judgment, common sense, and a strong trust relationship between Board and staff. Every complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved; every issue or concern will not be foreseen. For these reasons, trust in each other, allowance for error, and team efforts to address problems are a key part of an effective District operation.

Communications, Cooperation, and Support

Board and Administration: Recognize that open communication requires trust, respect, and a fundamental belief in goodwill among Board members and staff. Work to minimize misunderstandings and reduce conflict. Address disagreement privately and do not make disparaging remarks about one another or an official Board action in public. Agree to:

A.      support each other constructively and courteously

B.      maintain confidentiality

C.      allow ourselves and others the freedom to admit mistakes

D.      focus our discussions on issues, not personalities - free of defensiveness

E.       balance our honesty with sensitivity toward others

F.       uphold the integrity of every individual

G.      avoid compromising the Board as an institution or individual members with internal or external organizations or groups

H.      pursue thorough understanding at all times

I.        involve those parties who will be affected by the decision and the solution

J.       commit to getting to know one another and the ideas that are important to individuals

Effective Meetings

Board: Share ideas about new programs and new directions with the Superintendent and all other Board members before presenting major proposals publicly. If additional information or questions arise concerning an administrative recommendation the Board member will contact the Superintendent and the Superintendent will share the requested information with all other Board members. No official vote will be taken until the Board and administration has been given ample time to digest the proposal under consideration.

Administration: Bring matters to the Board in a timely fashion. Present programs/projects well enough in advance that suggestions for change proposed by the Board can be addressed without upsetting activities already "in motion".

Be Prepared

Board: Read all materials - call and ask questions in advance. Seek clarification and information as needed. Explain to the Superintendent or Board president in advance about major concerns regarding a proposal.

Administration: Develop recommendations that combine the best interests of students and the needs of the District with the focus and direction the Board generally wishes to take. Board input to the goal-setting process can provide direction to the Superintendent.

Disagree Without Becoming Disagreeable

Board: Use executive sessions to address complaints related to staff. Try to resolve major disagreements with one another or staff in private.

Administration: State your position but accept the will of the majority of the Board and make every effort - in action and in spirit - to follow through.

All: Disagree with each other in a positive and constructive fashion. Watch "tone of voice", "choice of words", and other actions that spell the difference between discussion, debate, and argument. Handle personal/personnel concerns in private. Give as much attention to the manner in which you disagree with people as you do to the particular issue.

Handling Controversy at Meetings

Board: The Board will not take final action on a complaint during the meeting at which it is presented. The Board will respond in a timely fashion after ample time is allowed for the issue to be given the thorough review and study it warrants.

The Board does not hear specific complaints related to individual staff members in open session. To protect the rights of individuals the Board will schedule these concerns for executive session.

Request that large groups identify a spokesperson and clearly establish time limits for speakers when large numbers of people wish to speak.

Administration: Resolve complaints at administrative levels outside the Board arena (example: the textbook complaint process), but prepare and forewarn the Board if a concern is likely to come its way. Assist the Board in upholding Board guidelines for dealing with controversial situations at meetings.

Decision Making

The identification and evaluation of alternatives, an awareness of short and long-term consequences, an appreciation for the needs of the group as well as individuals, and sensitivity toward collective action are essential to the decision-making process.

Board and Administration: In order to formulate and execute sound decisions, we agree to:

A.      resolve problems at the lowest level possible

B.      clearly communicate decisions

C.      build into decisions a point of reevaluation

D.      provide for input from all concerned

E.       use a decision-making style appropriate to the situation

F.       establish a rationale for decisions

G.      make decisions consistent with our expressed goals

H.      communicate the rationale for making a decision that has been superseded by a higher level of authority to those involved before releasing the information

Dealing with Citizen or Staff Complaints

Board and Administration: Complaints from the public or staff will be referred to the appropriate person in the chain of command and addressed at the lowest level possible. When a Board member or administrative staff member is contacted by a community or staff member they will:

A.      Listen to the individual's concern.

B.      Inquire if the individual has discussed the issue with the person immediately responsible. If this has not been done, inform them how to contact the appropriate person.

C.      Explain the District process for resolving concerns and conflicts. Describe the appropriate channels to follow if the complaint is not resolved.

D.      Be cautious of giving the appearance of agreeing with the person registering a complaint; sometimes just listening makes people think you are on "their side". Remember that anything you say might be understood as the "position of the Board or the administration".

E.       Following pursuit through the office of the Superintendent; as final recourse, a complaint can be submitted to the Board. The Board practice is to carefully investigate complaints before taking any action. Complaints raised against individuals cannot be addressed in a public meeting.

Development, Administration, and Review of Board Policy

Board: Exercise final approval over all policies. Study administrative reports on the implementation of policies and the effectiveness of policies. Once policies are approved by the majority of the members of the Board, support them even though you may have spoken against them initially.

Administration: Advise and assist the Board in developing policy. Share concerns about ideas that may not work. Once in place, support the policies of the Board whether or not you are in full agreement. Inform the Board of the manner in which policies are being administered, and when and if they may need to be revised.

Evaluation and Board Staff Development

Board: Establish strong and fair policies related to the evaluation of all District staff. Serve as a role model to staff by evaluating the effectiveness of Board operations.

Administration: Support Board policies regarding evaluation and approach your own evaluation as well as the evaluations of those you supervise with the serious intent to work toward improvement. Serve as a role model to those you supervise through your own willingness to be evaluated.

All: Commit to being supportive of each other's need to be recognized and rewarded for achievements as well as to be counseled and assisted when concerns about performance arise.

Commit to being proactive in your own education, growth, and development and be supportive of the growth and development of others.

Issues Which Come Before the Board

Information Items

Board: Inform staff of significant concerns raised by District patrons. Make staff aware of issues/programs on which the Board wishes to be particularly well informed.

Administration: Keep the Board informed of all new developments and the progress of activities related to Board goals and major programs. Be sure to inform the Board in advance of any complaint, concern, or issue likely to come before the Board.

Input Items

Board: Let the staff know about issues of concern and interest to the Board so that it is easier for the staff to distinguish between items the Board wishes to discuss and items staff should handle independently.

Administration: Bring to the Board in a timely fashion all issues, plans, or programs that meet the following criteria:

A.      likely to be sensitive to the community

B.      major change in program thrust

C.      major cost items

D.      major deployment of staff

The time frame for presenting such items to the Board should allow for Board deliberation and input. Staff should provide options and alternatives to the Board, which include strengths and weaknesses of the options.

Board Action Items

Board: Read agenda materials, understand the issues, and be prepared to discuss action items.

Administration: Provide ample time for the Board to read about, study, and debate issues prior to voting. Don't surprise the Board with a request for action on an issue for which they have not had prior information.

Implementation of Principles

Board: If a Board member or the Superintendent is reported to have knowingly or inadvertently violated a principle agreed to in this procedural agreement the Board president will take the initiative to discuss it with said person. The purpose of the discussion will be to determine the reason for the reported deviation from the Statement of Principles. The president will report the results of the discussion to the rest of the Board for their information.

Administration: If a staff member is reported to have knowingly or inadvertently violated the intent of the principles the Superintendent will initiate a discussion with the staff member. The Superintendent will take the appropriate steps to deter continued deviations from the intent of the agreed upon principles.

School Board President

The Board president assumes a more involved and active role in conducting the business of the School Corporation. Several areas of identifiable responsibility include:

A.      acting as spokesperson for the Board to the public, staff, and press

B.      planning meeting agendas with the Superintendent

C.      being responsible for chairing all Board meetings

D.      being liaison between the Board and the Superintendent

E.      overseeing the implementation of, and monitoring compliance with, the operating principles