Last year there was a charter school board that raised the ire of their community by not being forthcoming when they made personnel changes. The entire board ended up resigning.
The new board focused on two things their first year: fulfilling the vision and mission statement and being transparent. To be more specific, they:
- Held two town meetings;
- Published monthly board agendas and minutes on the school website;
- Published board action items and votes immediately after board meetings;
- Wrote monthly emails to parents;
- Took additional time discussing issues before votes so that the parents attending the board meeting fully understood the board's actions;
- And most importantly, putting all of their documents on the school website.
It's easy for disgruntled parents to criticize, but even more difficult to turn a school culture that has become suspicious and negative. But it can be done because it was done this past year by a charter school in Colorado.
The board deconstructed the school's vision and mission statements so that every board member not only can articulate them, but knows what purpose they serve in directing classroom teachers. Then the board further defined the school's focus by developing a simple visual to explain its work and priorities. After defining the board's work into five primary areas, the board developed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure progress in each of these areas. Each of the five areas have 3-5 points of data the board regularly monitors. These are aligned with the administrator's data collection and the work of the school Accountability Committee. Even the administrator's evaluation is aligned with these KPIs.
What were the pivotal things this board did to bring about a dramatic transformation in only one year?
1. Understanding the vision and mission statements and clearly communicating what they mean to stakeholders.
2. Reaching out to other charter school leaders for assistance and consultation and then using best practices from other schools to propel the board further along in its work.
3. Emphasizing transparency in everything that's done.
4. Documenting everything and communicating clearly.