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Secretaries' workshop builds on initial success

A Conference workshop offered for the second year designed to enhance both the role and the professional skills of the individuals who perform the duties of the school board secretary drew 150 people pre-registered for the all-day event.

Organizers were pleased that the group had many options for the program. "This is a group of people who want and need help with the work they do with school boards," one organizer noted. "It's not all black and white; there are a lot of gray areas involving board meeting minutes, agendas, and the Freedom of Information Act," she said.

The day began with all attendees together for a 90-minute discussion on how to better resolve conflict, lead by consultant Wayne Lovern from the Performance Improvement Group, Springfield.

Rather than relying exclusively on "developed responses," Lovern suggested that using a combination of styles can help to arbitrate issues, depending on the group and the type of conflict involved.

By taking a 30-question test, participants were able to identify one of four styles they most identified with. The approaches to conflict management ranged from avoiding and accommodating to competing, compromising or collaborating. As the participants reported out by individual tables, it appeared that the compromise approach was used most often, and competition the least.

"We all face the same conflicts, but what works for one person won't work for another," he said.

Lovern also gave probable outcomes to persons who overuse or under use one approach over another. It comes down to varying degrees of assertiveness and cooperation. "Certain skills are required to avoid conflict, whereas others are needed if you expect or want to accommodate others' interests," he explained.

At the end of the presentation, Lovern distributed a small card that participants could carry with them to consult to resolve conflicts by using certain approaches more often, and others less often.

The board secretaries later chose among several breakout sessions, including:

  • Board meeting minutes
    • Anna Lovern, IASB policy services

  • Records management
    • Mark Sorensen, certified archivist; vice-president Illinois State Historical Society; professor, Millikin University, Decatur; former assistant director of the Illinois State Archives, Springfield

  • Well-constructed agendas
    • Don Owen, educational consultant, Have Gavel, Will Travel, East Waterford, PA

  • IWAS (ISBE Web Application Security)
    • Scott Norton, division administrator, technology support, Illinois State Board of Education, Springfield

  • Freedom of Information Act
    • Darcy Kriha, partner, Franczek Sullivan, P.C., Chicago

  • IASB services
    • Linda Dawson, communications; Dawn Miller, field services; Anna Lovern, policy services; and Cynthia Woods, advocacy explained the workings of their various departments within IASB, outlining personnel as well as programs and services available from the Association.

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