Help Desk: Should our board have a formal induction program for new members?
You should definitely consider it.
Many boards of education already have a formal induction program that allows new board members to get up to speed quickly on the way the board operates and specifics about the school system. This should be scheduled soon after the member's election or appointment.
If your board does not have a formal procedure, the board should consider working with the superintendent to create one. It does not have to be complex. Simply put together a list of the types of information members of your board believe would have been helpful to them when they joined the board. Once all the board members are comfortable with the content, schedule a time when the board president and the superintendent can meet with the incoming member(s) to review it.
Items to cover might include:
- How to suggest items for inclusion on the agenda;
- The expectation that each board member will review the agenda prior to the meeting and ask questions as needed;
- How to handle questions about agenda items;
- The confidentiality of the personnel report prior to the board meeting;
- How to read the finance report;
- How the board evaluates itself, its superintendent and its CSFO;
- A broad overview of the requirements of the School Board Governance Improvement Act; and
- An overview of the system’s strategic plan and academic and financial situation.