As we aim to maintain a high degree of trust between the Board, the administrative staff, the teaching staff, and the community, these protocols can support our efforts to keep the child first and foremost.

BOARD MEMBER ROLES/AUTHORITY

  1. The Board sees itself primarily as a policy-setting body and delegates the administration of schools to the superintendent.  In addition, the Board provides oversight and represents the desires/expectations of the stakeholders.
  2. The Board annually sets goals for the district, taking into account administrative recommendations and the expectations of the stakeholders.  The District goals will become the basis of the goals for the superintendent and his/her administrative team.
  3. The Board of Education is granted the legal and regulatory authority to establish policy for the school district and to provide oversight for the education of our children.  Board members have authority only when acting as members of the Board at a duly convened open meeting.  In most cases, a majority vote of the Board is required for action.  A Board member does not have the power to individually authorize action.
  4. The Board strives to reach decisions through the consensus process rather than simply by majority vote, whenever possible.
  5. Board decisions are binding on all Board members and members will support, not undermine, all decisions reached by the Board.
  6. The Board is responsible for the evaluation of the performance of the superintendent at least annually.
  7. The Board annually evaluates itself, reviews its protocols, and holds itself to standards of best practice.

SUPERINTENDENT’S ROLE/AUTHORITY

  1. The Superintendent serves as the chief executive officer, is charged with implementing the policies of the Board, and is responsible for administration of the School District.
  2. The Superintendent shall suggest policies deemed necessary for the effective functioning of the School District and implement regulations, rules and procedures to support established policies.
  3. The Superintendent shall have the authority to organize, reorganize and arrange the administrative and supervisory staff, including, without limitation, instruction and business affairs, which, in his/her judgment, best serve the School District, subject to the approval of the Board of Education.
  4. The responsibility for the placement and transfer of personnel shall be vested in the Superintendent of Schools; hiring, termination and tenure shall be subject to the approval of the Board of Education.
  5. It is the Superintendent’s primary responsibility to provide visionary and aspirational leadership that enables the District to continually improve the educational experiences of students and achieve the goals which have been established.
  6. The Superintendent is a visible presence in the schools to underscore that the most important interactions that occur are in the classrooms.
  7. The Superintendent provides the Board with the information analysis, and sound professional advice it needs to formulate policy and monitor operations of the District.
  8. The Superintendent creates and sustains a climate of collegiality among members of the staff and parent body.

ROLE OF THE BOARD PRESIDENT

The Board President:

  1. Has no greater authority than any other Board member.
  2. Serves as a liaison between the Board and the Superintendent.
  3. Is responsible for sharing information pertaining to Board work with all Board members on a timely basis and is the primary conduit of information flow from the Board to the Superintendent.
  4. Works with the Superintendent and Board Vice-President to set meeting agendas.
  5. Runs meetings in an orderly fashion, using parliamentary procedure.  S/he encourages open discussion and deliberation, and guides the Board to reach decisions.
  6. Is the primary spokesperson for the Board with the media.

ROLE OF THE BOARD VICE-PRESIDENT

The Vice-President:

  1. Is available to stand in for the president whenever s/he is not available.
  2. Acts as mentor to incoming board members.
  3. Is available as a sounding board for the president.
  4. Is responsible for scrutinizing Board documents prior to Board acting upon them

BOARD MEETINGS

  1. Responsibility for setting the agenda is shared by the Superintendent, the Board President and the Vice-President.  Board members, through the President, can recommend items for the agenda/discussion.
  2. Calls to the Superintendent or Board President to suggest items prior to the drafting of the agenda will be reflected in the draft.
  3. When able, Board members will let the superintendent and Board President know in advance about items not in the draft which they intend to raise at the Board meeting, and the superintendent will do the same, thus ensuring that all participants will be prepared for the applicable discussions.
  4. Rules for confidentiality are those consistent with Section 805-a of the General Municipal Law, Commissioner’s Decisions and the Open Meetings Law.
  5. Discussions in executive session must remain completely confidential.
  6. E-mail should not be used for confidential matters or to conduct Board business.
  7. Items for executive session must be consistent with the Open Meetings Law and the public must be informed of the reason for the executive session.

MEETING DYNAMICS

  1. In both public meetings and executive sessions, each Board member has a right to be heard once on an issue prior to others having a second chance.  Members agree to listen to one another and not interrupt.
  2. Motions should be used to focus discussion on action items, and any member may “call the question” to test whether the Board is ready to vote.
  3. The Board President is authorized to focus discussion toward closure.
  4. Board members should address the Board as a whole with their comments, rather than addressing the public.
  5. The New York State Open Meetings Law governs the conduct of the meeting and Roberts Rules of Order, as applicable, guides the meeting, unless in violation of law.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN BOARD MEETINGS

  1. The Board urges members of the public to address concerns at the level of origin and then use the normal chain of authority to answer questions or resolve concerns.
  2. There will be an opportunity for public participation at work sessions, business and special meetings.
  3. Public comments on an agenda item are permitted prior to the opening of new business after the first round of Board discussion of the issue.
  4. Public opportunity to raise an issue or to raise a question about an issue not on the agenda will usually occur at the end of the meeting.
  5. Each speaker should state his/her name and address at the podium and is allowed one comment with a total speaking time of 3 minutes.  All comments should be directed to the whole Board, and not individual Board members.
  6. Interruption of Board discussion is not permitted.
  7. Civility and mutual respect is expected.  Speakers who indulge in rude and disrespectful behavior, such as cursing, making deprecating or disparaging remarks, libelous statements or threats of violence, will have their time at the microphone immediately terminated.
  8. The Board may justifiably restrict public commentary on matters involving privacy issues otherwise protected by law; for example, when a member of the public wants to engage in discussion that potentially may disclose information about a particular student.
  9. Board members will not engage in direct back and forth conversation with the public. If a member of the public has a specific question, they may also submit the question to the District Clerk for the Board or the Superintendent.

INFORMATION – SHARING

  1. Information necessary for the Board’s work will be shared consistently across the Board and with the superintendent, in part to maintain a practice of “no surprises,” particularly in public meetings and to assist the Board to reach consensus when appropriate.
  2. The superintendent’s periodic memos and information packet will be the primary source material.
  3. E-mail will be used for breaking news of a non-confidential nature; phone communication will be used for important confidential matters.
  4. Keep e-mail brief and to the point, with sensitivity to overall volume, recognizing that on the day of a Board meeting, it usually is too difficult to respond to questions.  Use e-mail to gain clarification but not for expressing opinions as this may violate the Open Meetings Law when a majority of the Board is included.
  5. Expect that confidential news as well as “new news” relative to previously agreed actions will come through the superintendent’s memo, executive session or, in an emergency, through telephone contact.
  6. Information requests to the administration should come to the Board President in order to maintain a reasonable balance of volume, content and tone.    If the administration deems the information requests overly burdensome in the time requested, the Superintendent will discuss with the Board President and the member making the request, possible alternatives to address the member’s information request.  The following options may be used to meet the request:
  7. An optional information meeting will be scheduled prior to the commencement of the Board meeting at which time the Superintendent will provide the information verbally.
  8. The Superintendent will discuss with the Board President and the member possible alternatives to address the member’s information request.
  9. The item will be placed on a future Board of Education agenda for discussion.
  10. Intra-Board communication – by telephone, e-mail or in person – is essential, but should be consistent with the Open Meetings Law in terms of public and executive session deliberation and decision-making.

PARENTAL AND STAFF ISSUES

  1. Board members should direct parents and staff who call with complaints to work up through the hierarchy – talking to the teacher, the principal and the Superintendent, before further involving Board members.
  2. Board members should refer other more substantive criticisms, complaints or suggestions to the Board President and to the Superintendent.  The Board President will assure circulation to the full Board.  The Superintendent does or causes to be done the investigating and problem solving, with staff assistance as necessary.  Board member should not attempt to investigate or problem solve.
  3. The Board will strive to discourage anonymous complaints.

MEDIA CONTACT

  1. 1. All official statements of Board positions, as well as responses to media inquiries, come from the Board President and/or the Superintendent (or their designees).

RELATIONSHIP TO STAFF

  1. In general, contact with faculty, including visits to the schools, occurs through the Superintendent when Board members are wearing their “Board hat.”  When contacting staff as a parent, it is reassuring to say, “I am calling as a parent.”
  2. An individual Board member has no authority to direct personnel.

ONGOING EDUCATION/PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF BOARD MEMBERS

  1. Board members are committed to staying current on educational issues, including legislative issues affecting the public schools, via various New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) services and information provided by the Superintendent and his/her staff, and by our legal counsel.
  2. Board members are encouraged to participate in Westchester Putnam School Boards Association (WPSBA) meetings and sessions offered by NYSSBA, including the annual convention.

OTHER

  1. District Goals: There will be a goal setting meeting with the Superintendent as early as practical after July 1 to discuss District goals for that school year. The final goals will be presented to the community and approved by the Board at a public meeting in the early fall of each year. Building goals in support of District goals will also be developed by building administrators. The Superintendent will provide a report on progress towards the goals at least quarterly.
  2. Board Goals: The Board will develop its own goals, separate from District goals, annually. Matters related to the internal workings of the Board and how to improve governance would be discussed at its annual retreat.
  3. Orientation of New Board Members: The Superintendent, Board President and Vice-President will provide new Board members with an overview orientation as close to July 1st as practical. The key elements may include:
    1. Individual meetings with each Board member, each assistant superintendent, each building principal and the director of special education. The purpose of these meetings is to familiarize the new Board member(s) with key district staff, their roles and responsibilities, and any current initiatives that may be underway. The Superintendent will inform the staff that the new Board member(s) will contact them directly to set up orientation meetings. The new Board member(s) are responsible for scheduling the meetings. At these meetings, the new Board member(s) should be provided with relevant materials for their area of responsibility, such as:
      • Superintendent: District mission, vision, goals and reports on goal accomplishment or progress for the previous two years; and any policies currently under review.
      • Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Technology: Budget history and main challenges; internal and external audit reports; explanation of all District funds and fund balances.
      • Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction*: Curriculum maps; materials on APPR; probationary staff evaluation process; tenure process; and mentoring. (*This title does not currently exist as a separate position in the District. Superintendent is performing both positions.)
    2. Training sessions held by the WPSBA and by NYSSBA, including legally required financial and Board governance training.
    3. Reading Material. New Board members will be given a copy of the Board’s Operating Protocols, the Code of Ethics, an up-to-date Policy Manual, and a copy of Becoming a Better Board Member, a publication by the National School Boards Association.
    4. List of relevant website resources.