To increase the quality and effectiveness of charter school governing boards, several states are requiring comprehensive training programs for board members.
The main goal of all these training programs is to have a responsible, knowledgeable, and high-functioning charter school governing board so charter school leaders can focus more time on students and school performance.
The Ethos Logos Governing Board Support Module has a number of best practice trainings to help give new boards a framework of understanding of their role. The classes are delivered electronically in interactive units that cover the major areas of the governing board’s responsibilities. The program also includes sample board policies, committee structure ideas, and other best practice research aimed at informing your team.
These are not set programs but rather flexible and adaptable to the specific needs of the charter school and its board members. Many states have board training programs as a part of the chartering process or delivered through their associations. Our module complements these trainings.
Charter boards have a life cycle. The needs of a start-up board are much different than a mature board that has seen challenges. New board members have come and gone and are overseeing an established school. Not every school evolves through its life cycle in the same way or at the same pace; but if a school stagnates in any one phase, it can be detrimental to the school's mission.
Start-Up Phase Boards
At the start-up phase of a charter school, a founder and a small group of passionate, handpicked supporters are driven by a vision of educational excellence, academic achievement, and impacting their community. The founding board is marked by hard work, excitement, and a passion to spread the school's message. If this process works as planned the long-term culture and norms of the board are set for the life of the board. This phase has a number of policies and governance practices that need to be established.
Adolescence Stage Boards
As the school grows and settles into its operations, the board may change through term expirations or grow as new skills are needed. More systems are put into place, both operationally and governance-wise from higher-order performance evaluation, and an evolving committee structure.
A Mature and Effective Board
A charter school board becomes highly effective as it emerges through some challenges and the growing pains brought on from start-up and growth. A highly effective board has sound governance practices in place that allow it to work efficiently and focus on that which matters most. A mature/effective board has a high level of confidence and trust in the school leader and actively solicits feedback on how the charter school is doing. These boards have strong recruitment and replacement protocol and strong committees that do effective work. The highly functional board is no longer involved in the operations of the school and has created systems to allow it to effectively provide appropriate oversight. It spends most of its time on strategic issues, building the school’s reputation, and ensuring compliance with the authorizer.
A high-performing board both supports the school leader and holds them accountable to mutually agreed-upon expectations. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and annual goals are clearly established. The annual school leader performance becomes a tool for accountability, progress assessment, discussion, and support. Collectively, the board and staff come together to address challenges, both proactive and reactive.