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A Guide to Successful School Board Meetings

A book designed to help school boards have better meetings has been published by the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Coming to Order— A Guide to Successful School Board Meetings is designed for boards that hope to use their meetings to reach a higher level of performance as well as those that simply need a cure for bad meetings.

A complimentary copy of the book was mailed to superintendents in IASB member districts. Additional copies are available to members for $15 from IASB Publications (regular price is $20).

The book represents a staff-written update of an older IASB publication, Successful School Board Meetings, which has been out-of-print for several years. Like the older book, the new version explains how to plan and conduct meetings that meet the needs of the individual school board. The new version, however, takes the board meeting beyond compliance with legal requirements to meetings that serve the interests of both school and community.

The book targets both new and experienced board members and should be especially useful to board presidents, secretaries and superintendents.

The 93-page Coming to Order includes 11 chapters and an extensive appendix. The chapters are:

1 -- The Importance of Good Meetings explains why a school board must use meetings to achieve its aims. There is no other way.

2--The Agenda – A Road Map to Success explains how to construct an agenda that enables the board to transact urgent business efficiently and reserve most of the time for matters important to the board. Various agenda formats are offered along with explanations of the consent agenda and the annual agenda calendar.

3 -- Legal Requirements for Meetings reviews the requirements of the Open Meetings Act and the School Code as they bear on various types of meetings, committees, public notices, minutes and board procedures.

4-- Planning the Meeting shows how to structure a meeting to achieve different purposes. This chapter explains the importance of the packet distributed to board members before the meeting, ways to arrange the meeting room, and how to accommodate public participation and needs for security.

5 – Roles and Responsibilities looks at the jobs of the board president, secretary, superintendent, individual board members and the board attorney.

6 – Conducting the Meeting walks the reader through a typical board meeting and offers alternative ways of taking action and reaching decisions.

7 -- Recording the Meeting explains the work of the board secretary—the recording and safekeeping of board meeting minutes and related documents.

8 -- Inviting the Public to the Meeting focuses on public participation at both regular meetings and special hearings and provides insights into the handling of common problems.

9 – Working with the News Media offers tips on how to get accurate news coverage and avoid misunderstandings.

10 -- The New Team: Reorganizing the School Board shows how to properly seat new members, elect officers and organize the new school board following each biennial election.

11 -- Evaluating the School Board Meeting offers suggestions on how to keep the school board sharp at conducting meetings.

Some of the special topics addressed in Coming to Order are: avoiding common time wasters, parliamentary procedure, ways of making decisions, myths and truths, the use of e-mail, orienting new members, filling vacancies and how to deal with pressure groups.

The book may be ordered from IASB Publications or via the IASB Online Bookstore.

Coming to Order—A Guide to Successful School Board Meetings, published by the Illinois Association of School Boards, 2013; 93 pages, soft cover, ISBN 1-880-33118-7. Price: $20 ($15 for members).

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