Effective board meetings are the foundation for high-performing boards. They are essential to great governance, strong leadership, and achieving better academic outcomes. On the other hand, bad meetings easily become a source of frustration for board members and school leaders while having an adverse impact on the school.
Here are some tips to help you conduct strategic, focused, and productive board meetings.
1. Collaborate on the agenda
A well-planned agenda is the key to a focused and efficient meeting. The chair and school leader should plan the agenda together. This will help prioritize important topics and minimize confusion or misunderstandings that could result from inadequate preparation.
It’s also helpful to get feedback from other board members so they know what to expect and to ensure critical topics are not overlooked. The draft agenda also reminds board members to prepare reports that need to be reviewed by the board prior to the meeting. This will be useful to prevent meetings from getting off-track.
2. Set a time limit for each item
Be sure to add a timeframe for each item and make sure you stick to it. This creates transparency on what everyone can expect and how much time the board has to review each item. Timeframes will ensure meetings remain focused and don’t turn into marathon sessions.
Beyond that, agenda timeframes show board members that their time is valued.
3. Consider using a consent agenda
To expedite business at a school board meeting, the board may choose to use a consent agenda. The consent agenda is great way to handle routine business that does not require discussion. It allows the board to consider multiple items at one time so that routine business can be approved with a single vote instead of separate votes for each item. By using a consent agenda, you’ll shorten the meeting or save time for more important discussion items.
4. Send your agenda and board packet to members in advance
Meetings are for productive discussions and important decision-making. They are not for reviewing and digesting information for the first time while trying to meaningfully contribute to the meeting.
To ensure members are adequately prepared, provide your board with context and supporting information ahead of time so they have the opportunity to review materials. The agenda and board packet should be sent out 7 days before the meeting so members have enough time to review and prepare for the meeting. Members will arrive to meetings ready to meaningfully discuss important issues which will lead to more focused meetings and better decision-making for the school.
5. Leverage committees
An easy way to extend meetings is by doing all of your board responsibilities at the monthly board meeting. No member enjoys long meetings, that’s why committees are so useful to boards. Work gets completed beforehand which leads to shorter board meetings.
Add all committee reports into the board packet so members can review prior to the meeting. During the meeting, discuss only the reports that involve a decision or ones that require additional explanation or discussion.
Effective board meetings call for committed members and excellent planning. We’d love to hear from you. How do you ensure productive board meetings? Send us at note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Charterboards helps charter schools leverage technology to save time on meeting documents, stay in compliance and hold productive board meetings.