Serving on a board of directors, whether it be an elected position or volunteer, is a big commitment.
Meetings and decisions of consequence can make the service seem daunting at times. Some people accept a seat on a board, thinking it will be a piece of cake, more fun than work, only to be surprised at the duties they face.
Some take the job very seriously, others only partially. People new to service on the board quickly learn about fiduciary duty, liability and other matters that directly impact them.
Board members who don’t take their work seriously, or understand the full impact of their role, can quickly bring dysfunction to the board on which they serve.
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It’s refreshing to see an entity like the Pasco School Board being proactive about its work.
The board recently completed one of four planned retreats. It is reviewing the concepts in the books Good Governance is a Choice and How Not to be a Terrible School Board Member.
The first section dealt with “governance culture.”
One of the items the school board discussed is their job description, and one of its components was to suggest they facilitate a dialogue between parents, staff and taxpayers.
Communication is key, and transparency is always appreciated by stakeholders. Suggested tools included a Facebook page or a district ombudsman.
Board members were also to pick behaviors they would not tolerate from their peers. They placed stickers next to the behaviors they felt were most insufferable. Topics included not supporting board decisions after a vote, requesting special benefits and not stepping aside in a discussion or vote if there is a conflict of interest.
As it works its way through the retreats, the board will also consider its relationship with the superintendent, operational expectations and policies and results.
Taking a look inward isn’t always easy. But the Pasco School Board has undertaken a valuable exercise that should make it stronger and of better service to its constituents.
We wish all boards — no matter how solid or fractured — would take on a similar challenge, keeping in mind the principles by which they are supposed to serve and the good of the organization.
It’s not always an easy thing to do, but it’s a necessary function for a healthy organization to take some time to reflect and correct course as needed. It should be a built-in process on a regular basis.
We’re sure other boards undertake similar exercises, but we know some don’t. Materials and books abound on board governance.
Our community would be served well if all boards followed the example set by the Pasco School Board.