|IASB JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE|
2003 JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Workshops tout best practice, policy, proficiency
A highlight for many people attending the 71st Joint Annual Conference in
2003 was the pre-conference workshop. This extended event took place Friday, Nov. 21, at
the Sheraton Hotel, where 696 attendees chose one of seven workshops to learn more about
effective leadership, governing in a democracy, detecting a vision, school law and
finance, winning referendum strategies, personality typing in decision-making, and board
The single largest course drew 150 attendees to the Basics of School Law and Finance.
This popular workshop targets newly elected board members and superintendents who want to
help guide newer members into the mainstream of board work.
Larry Kuster, a Jacksonville attorney, and Robert Madonia, superintendent with
Frankfort CCD 157C, were assisted by Dave Love, director of field services for IASB,
In addition to discussing the basics, Madonia led the group through the impact of the
Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, otherwise known as tax caps. Explaining how the
national Consumer Price Index this year affects next year's tax levy, he said it is
essential for boards to communicate the cap's impact with their communities.
"Keeping up your tax base is absolutely crucial in tax capped districts. By all
means, never leave anything on the table," Madonia insisted.
Because county clerks automatically adjust (and often lower) tax levies after the
district announces them, if the board sets the levy too low, the district will lose the
difference and never make it up.
"I encourage strong, close communication with the community about this. Get out
and explain it, and they'll accept it," he said. "But they'll holler
even louder if you fail to do this."
Communications were also a central theme in the workshop for Myers-Briggs Type
Indicator as a tool for boards.
Explaining the difference between thinkers and feelers, Mary Scott Borea, an MBTI
instructor from Chicago, said boards make decisions based on how they gather information.
The process each member uses to gather and evaluate that information will influence the
deliberations and ultimately the decisions of the group.
"Thinkers decide with their heads; feelers start with their heart, their
convictions," she said. "One is observational, the other personal; both are
She was assisted by John Cassel, director of field services for IASB, Lombard.
In the workshop, Making the Move from Good to Great, IASB field service director Donna
Johnson and policy services assistant director Susan Farrell Herrmann asked participants a
series of questions to help them decide whether they were meeting community expectations.
Herrmann said the board's policy manual is an effective gauge.
"You don't have to memorize it, but you need to read and use it," she
said. "That's where it begins. If you don't believe in and follow those
policies, then your administrators won't. If it's at the table but not looked at
or used, then it won't work. If a policy doesn't work for your district, change
Updated policy manuals also enable a board to stay on task and focus on board work
instead of staff work, she added.
Another workshop, Winning at the Polls, explained how focus groups can help districts
to determine what obstacles may be encountered when contemplating referendum drives.
"A pure focus group can be used early in the process or later, as a trial balloon
for ideas," said Sissy Henry, executive director of the Georgia School Board
Association. "But don't confuse these groups with task forces."
A focus group can narrow the issues to help define the message in a referendum. "A
focus group should be controlled; by invitation only," she continued. "But make
sure all the demographics in the community are represented. You may need to conduct
several focus groups, depending on the size of the community."
All of the early workshops at the 2003 Joint Annual Conference qualified board members
for points in IASB's Master Board Member service and recognition program and as
qualifying core or elective courses in the IASB LeaderShop professional development
program. Advance registration and fees are required to attend. Costs include breakfast,
lunch and workshop materials.
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