Working With Your Board

Research has shown that a positive working relationship between the board and the superintendent can directly impact student achievement in the district. It’s fairly easy to surmise that if there is continual acrimony and disruption between the board and the superintendent, very little will be accomplished in the district and students will be negatively impacted by the lack of harmony and cohesiveness. There are several practices to which boards and superintendents can commit that will help to ensure a good working relationship.

Full Disclosure

The cornerstone of a strong board-superintendent partnership is the frank disclosure of school problems to board members. Complete and thorough disclosure is more likely in situations wherein the superintendent can be open and receptive to inquiries from members of the board, that she/he is knowledgeable about the district’s activities, and that she/he provides information as promptly as possible.

Frequent Two-Way Communication

Timely oral and written communications from the superintendent regarding pending, emergency and routine items go a long way towards fostering good relationships with boards. When board members reciprocate by informing the superintendent of citizen’s concerns in a timely manner, the relationship grows stronger.

The board must be well informed to make wise decisions. Before major decisions are made, board members should have an opportunity to read background information, examine alternatives and consider the implications of alternative actions.

Careful Planning

No one enjoys surprises, and careful planning will avoid most of them. The superintendent and the board should plan together. Planning begins with the board adopting yearly objectives for the district, by which the board provides direction for the superintendent. The superintendent oversees the implementation of the objectives. An excellent approach to global planning that involves the community is strategic planning.

This document on effective board/superintendent relationships is an excellent resource for board members and superintendents alike:
Sixteen Tenets of the Effective Board/Superintendent Leadership Team (File to Come)