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Orientation: Building the Board Team

A publication to help school boards orient new members and build the new board team

Every other year, most school boards gain at least one new member, and some even acquire a new majority of four or more new members. Whenever new members join the governance team — including the hiring of a new superintendent — it is valuable to go back to the basics, in order to help orient the newcomers with board governance processes.

Orientation: Building the Board Team assists boards with this orientation. This publication outlines the work of school boards in a process designed to facilitate conversations about a school district's identity, purpose and the board processes available to fulfill that purpose.

The orientation process begins with a sample agenda for a 90-minute meeting for the new board members, the superintendent and board president that reviews the following subjects:

  • Welcome
  • Board-superintendent relationship
  • School finances
  • Instructional program
  • Personnel
  • Community relations
  • Future issues and assessment

A second sample agenda for a full board meeting is included along with key questions and suggested local documents to help new members answer questions about the district's identity, including:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we care about?
  • What are we trying to do?

A third suggested agenda for a full board meeting is included along with key questions and suggested local documents to help new members answer these questions about the board's governance processes:

  • How does this team do business?
  • What's expected around the table?
  • Do we have agreement regarding our processes?

All three meetings are designed to be conducted in 90-minute sessions. They can be part of regularly scheduled board meetings or conducted as special meetings. All require compliance with Open Meetings Act provisions.

While the orientation is designed to be self-directed, outside facilitators may also be used.

"Orientation: Building the Board Team " also includes references to materials available from IASB, the Illinois State Board of Education, National School Boards Association, and the Center for Public Education.