QUESTION 3: The BOE is essentially the board of directors of our schools. In a corporate setting, board members bring best practices from the outside world to the company they serve. What one best practice would you like to share?
As I’ve discussed in previous questions, the role of a Board of Education member is very similar to that of a Board of Directors. We’re there to advise, define parameters, provide judgement on major issues, and avoid day-to-operation.
The one best practice that helps us set our goals, continue our focus on student achievement and be better board members, is the annual Board of Education Self Evaluation. The self-evaluation is comprised of two sets of indicators; about the board as a whole, and as individual board members. By completing both we got a 360 degree view of our own performance and that of the board. It’s organized into sections; Planning, Policy, Student Achievement, Finance, Board Operations, Board Performance, Board/Superintendent Relations, Board/Staff Relations, and Board and Community. We must provide rankings (1-4), and comments or specific examples. The last page of the evaluation consists of two open-ended questions where we have the opportunity to address future challenges and identify possible solutions.
After the Board Self Evaluation is completed by all board member, it’s compiled by a Field Service Representative of the New Jersey School Board Association(NJSBA), and we meet to review. It allows us to identify and discuss strengths and areas of concern. Ultimately we use this feedback session to develop board goals for the upcoming year. An interesting outcome is that inevitably we rank the board performance higher than our evaluation as individual board members. Over the many years I’ve been involved in the process, our Field Representatives have shared that this a hallmark of highly functioning Board of Educations.
So although there are several best practices that I could identify, this one in particular is of significant importance.