Appreciating the Board
If the Head of a School is the captain of the ship, the School Board is its engine–the force that maintains a strong headway through storms and lulls. Boards are the stewards of a school’s future and a strong board is an absolute requirement for a school’s prosperity.
Board members for independent schools are called upon to ensure the long-term health and well-being of the school through sound investments in people, programs and facilities. They must be prudent risk-takers, mindful of tradition, but not hamstrung by it. They must stay focused on the environmental dynamics that impact the future, as well as the present. They must remain loyal to the mission of the school, not the individuals within it, and remember not to meddle with decisions that belong in the hands of administrators and the Head of School. It’s a lot to expect.
Evaluating Board Performance
What does a sound and effective school board look like? Does your board function smoothly? Does it observe the subtle differences between governing and managing, or does it meddle in administrative matters? Is it tuned in to the current trends and issues in today’s world? Does it strive to envision future needs and developments, or is it rooted too firmly in the past? Do you have the right board members to address present and future needs?
Who Bells the Cat?
Because there is usually no one to whom the school’s board is directly accountable, the introduction of an outside advisor like Concentrics is often the best way to help a board review its own performance and composition. Concentrics has handled a number of interventions with independent school boards and trustees to help with self-evaluation and support their efforts in developing their long-term vision and shorter term strategies.
Building a Better Board
Our consultants meet with the board and interview each member, learning about their strengths, challenges and needs. We review the school’s mission and strategic plan, probing for the dynamics within the body, including conflicts and commitment. Discussions about the major challenges faced by the school and the board help to identify key issues and bring them into sharper focus.
After gathering information about the board’s unique context, we can provide a Board Retreat for members that focuses on identifying and maximizing strengths, closing gaps and ensuring generative discussion about the strategic issues that the board is facing, or should be facing. We look for consensus and offer guidance based upon experience in dealing with other school boards. Concentrics’ expertise in building collaboration among competing interests helps school boards hurdle obstacles to planning and performance. Concentrics also provides consulting relative to board processes, including meetings of the whole board, committee meetings, and communication between meetings to keep all board members engaged and committed.