Board Governance Handbook
The Board of Education is entrusted by the community to uphold the Constitutions of California and the United States, to protect the public interest in schools, and to ensure that a high-quality education is provided to each student.
This Handbook reflects the work of the Governance Team to create a framework for effective governance. Included herein are the Mission, Description of Effective Governance, Unity of Purpose, Commitment to Equity, Roles and Responsibilities, Guidelines for Working Together, Principles, and Protocols. Agreements have been reached to create the structures that enable the Governance Team to perform its responsibilities in a way that best benefits all children.
The Mission of the Santa Barbara Unified School District is to prepare students for a world that is yet to be created.
There are three dimensions to the effective governance of any organization:
- The actions of an individual
- A group coming together to govern
- The performance of governance responsibilities by the group
In a school district, the Board and Superintendent work together as a governance team. For a governance team to work together effectively, members need to (1) Maintain a Unity of Purpose, (2) Agree on and govern within appropriate roles, (3) Create and sustain a positive governance culture, and (4) Create a supportive structure for effective governance. Effective governance tenets encompass the basic characteristics and behaviors that enable governance team members to effectively create a climate for excellence in a school district and maintain the focus on improved student learning and achievement.
UNITY OF PURPOSE
Board members are the representatives of the people, elected to govern the school district and entrusted to ensure the district schools educate the students in consideration of the interests of the local community.
The Superintendent is hired by the School Board to provide the professional expertise in the day-to-day operations of the district and to:
- Work with the School Board to develop an effective governance leadership team.
- Serve as the chief administrative officer for the school district.
COMMITMENT TO EQUITY
The Governance Team recognizes that educational excellence requires a commitment to equity. Students bring a wide range of assets, abilities, backgrounds, and needs to their educational experience, and the school district has an obligation to provide all students with the access and opportunities necessary for college, career, and life success. This requires the Governance Team to address practices, policies and barriers that perpetuate inequities which lead to opportunity and achievement gaps. The School Board is equity-driven, making intentional governance decisions that combat institutional discrimination and bias (both explicit and implicit) and eliminate disparities in educational outcomes based on socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or family background.
- GOVERNANCE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- GUIDELINES FOR WORKING TOGETHER
- PRINCIPLES AND PROTOCOLS TO FACILITATE GOVERNANCE LEADERSHIP
The Governing Board has been elected by the community to provide leadership and citizen oversight of the district. The Board shall ensure that the school district is responsive to the values, beliefs, and priorities of its community. Boards fulfill this role by performing six major responsibilities. The Board must:
- Set direction
- Establish an effective and efficient structure
- Offer support
- Ensure accountability
- Provide community leadership as advocates for students, staff, the school district and public schools
- Ensure Learning Opportunities for Board Members
These responsibilities represent core functions that are so fundamental to a school system’s accountability to the community it serves that they can only be performed by an elected governing body. Authority is granted to the Board as a whole, not to each member individually. Therefore, Board members fulfill these responsibilities by working together as a governance team with the Superintendent to make decisions that best serve all the students in the community. The Superintendent assists the Board in carrying out its responsibilities and leads the staff towards the accomplishment of the agreed upon district vision and goals.
1. Set the Direction for the School District
- Establish the district long-term vision focused on what the students need to achieve their highest potential; set a clear direction that drives every aspect of the district’s programs.
- Focus on student learning and ensure that all students have an equitable educational experience.
- Receive needs assessment/baseline data.
- Generate, review, or revise setting direction documents (beliefs, vision, priorities, strategic goals, success indicators).
- Ensure an appropriate inclusive process is used.
- Make sure that these documents are the driving force for all district efforts.
2. Establish an Effective and Efficient Structure for the School District
- Employ and support the Superintendent; set policy for hiring of other personnel.
- Oversee the development and adoption of bylaws, resolutions, and policies.
- Set a direction for and adopt the curriculum.
- Establish budget priorities, adopt the budget, LCAP, and oversee facilities issues through goals and action.
- Provide direction for and vote to accept collective bargaining agreements.
3. Provide Support Through Board Behavior and Actions
- Support the Superintendent and staff as they implement the established vision.
- Act with a professional demeanor that models the district’s beliefs and vision.
- Make decisions and provide resources that support mutually agreed upon priorities and goals.
- Uphold district bylaws and policies that the Board has approved.
- Be knowledgeable about district efforts.
- Ensure that a positive working climate exists.
4. Ensure Accountability to the Public
- Evaluate the Superintendent and set policy for the evaluation of other personnel.
- Monitor, review, and revise policies and serve as the judicial and appeals body.
- Monitor student achievement and evaluate the school system’s progress and program effectiveness; require program changes as indicated.
- Work as a governance team to communicate student achievement and progress to the community.
- Monitor and adjust district finances.
- Monitor the collective bargaining process.
- Develop and implement Board self-evaluation.
5. Demonstrate Community Leadership
- Speak with a common voice about district policies, goals, and issues.
- Engage and involve the community in district schools and activities.
- Communicate clear information about policies, programs, and financial condition of the district.
- Advocate for students, district educational programs, and public education to the general public, key community members, and local, state, and national leaders.
- Ensure that the community and stakeholders have engaged in the LCAP development process.
6. Ensure Learning Opportunities for Board Members
- Model disposition to continuous learning.
- Attend learning opportunities in Governance, Instruction, Finance, Personnel, Facilities, etc.
- Establish Board needs and use learning resources through district, county, and statewide organizations such as CSBA.
What the Board Needs from the Superintendent-
The Superintendent will support the Board members in fulfilling their responsibilities by:
- Continuing to keep them fully informed.
- Promoting open, honest communication.
- Engaging them in school events and and/or staff/student recognitions.
- Ensuring that there are no surprises.
What the Superintendent Needs from the Board-
The Board members will support the Superintendent in fulfilling his/her responsibilities by:
- Ensuring that there are no surprises and preparing him/her for success by asking questions in advance as practicable as possible.
- Reading/reviewing all communications sent and the Board packet.
- Asking how they can help.
- Listening to what the Superintendent needs to move the district forward.
What Board Members Need from Each Other
The Board members will support each other by:
- Respecting one another’s opinions.
- Having open, honest communication as a Board.
- Listening and directing attention to the person who is speaking.
- Remembering that the meetings are the Board’s meetings in public, not public meetings.
- Ensuring that there are no surprises.
- Being nonjudgmental and patient with each other.
A principle: A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.
A protocol: The official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.
- 1 - Requesting Information from the Superintendent
- 2 - Meeting as Strategic Leadership
- 3 - Role of the Board President
- 4 - Board Deliberations, Motions, and Action Agenda Items
- 5 - Board Meeting Agenda Items Requests and the Consent Agenda
- 6 - Resources for Newly Elected Board Members and School Board Candidates
- 7 - Establishing Multi-Year Goals
- 8 - Communications and Designated Spokesperson
- 9 - Handling Community or Staff Concerns, Complaints and Recommendations
- 10 - Confidentiality
- 11 - Visiting Schools and Attending School Events
- 12 - Collective Bargaining
- 13 - Student Board Member
Critical to the ability of trustees to make informed decisions is timely access to information.
➔ The Superintendent endeavors to be responsive to requests for information, maintain the focus on district priorities, and balance the management of staff time.
- Trustees will always work through the Superintendent when asking or requesting additional information on Board meeting agenda items.
- The Superintendent will ensure timely responses to requests and will provide the information or direct Board members to the correct source. As appropriate, the Superintendent will distribute answers to all Board members.
- The Board will be aware of staff time constraints when requesting information. Length of time to provide the information will be based on the time needed to research the information.
The Board meeting is a meeting to conduct district business in public. Well-run efficient meetings model leadership, promote trust and confidence, and provide opportunities to demonstrate strategically moving the district forward and planning for the future.
➔ The governance team wants to let the public know that the Board maintains the focus on professionalism.
➔ The Board meeting provides opportunities to conduct the District’s business and share educational philosophy among the governance team members and with the community.
The principal/Superintendent reports will explicitly demonstrate the relationship to the district goals.
- The Board members agree to share accountability for Board deliberations that demonstrate that the “right” amount of time is spent on the “right” things while valuing the input of each member of the governance team.
- Board member comments at the Board meeting will focus on goals, professional learning, response to community activities or concerns, or educational trends, as they relate to the school district.
- As needed, the Board will schedule study sessions and Board conversations linked to the district’s strategic priorities.
- An item that has no action, is unresolved, or has new information may be brought back for further discussion and placed on the agenda at the request of any Board member, per Board Bylaw 9322(a).
- The Governance team will create an annual Governance Calendar to balance the workload, determine length of agenda, and set the meeting duration to ensure that meetings are effective and that statutory deadlines are met.
The Board has an obligation to set an example of good government in action for the community.
➔ The Board intends for meetings to proceed professionally, efficiently, and effectively.
➔ The Board president sets the tone and shapes the public’s perception of the school Board.
➔ Each Board member must have the opportunity to express his or her viewpoint during Board deliberation.
The role of the Board president is to:
- Confer and prepare the agenda and other aspects of the meeting with the Superintendent before the Board meeting, as necessary. Another Board member is asked to join this meeting.
- Facilitate the Board meeting, supporting the effective flow of the discussion and encouraging input from all Board members while staying on task, moving forward, and maintaining proper meeting decorum.
- Model the tone and behavior that the Board wishes to convey to the community.
- Following the Board meeting, the Board president with the Superintendent will ensure there are appropriate follow-up actions and clarification of possible options for the Board.
- The Board president serves as the primary spokesperson for the Board.
The tenets of parliamentary procedure help ensure the orderly conduct of Board meetings.
➔ Establishing clear and simple rules leads to wider understanding and participation, fostering a healthy exchange of ideas.
➔ Motions are the vehicles for orderly decision-making by the Board.
The Board president will introduce the agenda item and present the opportunity for the Superintendent and staff to report on the issue at hand and to provide staff recommendations.
- Members of the public will be afforded the right to address the Board before or during consideration of the item. (Government Code 54954.3)
- The Board president will open the item for discussion so that Board members may exchange thoughts or ask the Superintendent and staff for further clarification if necessary.
- The Board president will call for a motion. A Board member may act by saying, “I move that….” Another Board member may second the motion by saying, “I second the motion.”
- The Board president will acknowledge the motion and second and ask if any further discussion by the Board is necessary.
- The Board president will ask Board members to signify by saying “Aye” and raising their hands.
- Any Board member abstaining or voting “No” may provide a brief statement regarding his/her/their position.
- The Board president announces the result of the vote and clarifies Board direction for the Superintendent and the record keeper.
- The majority vote sets direction for the district; and when asked questions about a Board decision by the public and the media, members in the minority will state something to the effect of, “Even though I was in the minority, I support the Board decision.”
➔ Individual Board members may request items to be added to the Board Meeting Agenda.
➔ A consent agenda allows the Board to approve items together without discussion or individual motions.
➔ Consent agendas help streamline meetings by allowing procedural decisions that are likely to be noncontroversial to be made through a single motion.
At any time as well as during Board meetings, individual Board members may request that an item be added for future agenda items.
Board members, staff, or members of the public can request an item be pulled from the Consent Agenda for individual consideration.
- A typical reason to remove an item from the Consent Agenda is to:
- Discuss the item,
- Query the item,
- Register a vote against the item.
- Ideally, requests to remove an item from the Consent Agenda and the reason for the request should be made during approval of the agenda, or at the beginning of the Consent Agenda.
- Consent items should include, but are not limited to, approval of minutes, field trips, conference requests, personnel, etc., as well as items which have been reported and fully discussed in an earlier Board meeting.
- Items removed from the Consent Agenda will be discussed separately from the Consent Agenda or later in the meeting.
Newly elected members to the Board of Trustees and School Board candidates may not be familiar with State open meeting laws, meeting procedural policies, Board bylaws, the district budget, goals, and other district-related issues.
➔ The governance team wants to provide all the tools necessary to help the new members and candidates.
➔ Having resources related to Board meeting procedure and pertinent district information will help prepare new Board members for Board meetings and will facilitate integration into the governance team.
➔ School Board candidates will benefit from understanding Board related information.
- The Superintendent will invite School Board candidates to an orientation meeting to share and review the resources available for Board candidates, including CSBA materials, and a general overview of the District’s Governance Handbook and Calendar, and Board meeting dates. Candidates will be also directed to District resources, including budget, policies, etc.
- Newly elected Board members will receive the following resources upon election and prior to the first Board meeting: Board Meeting Agenda link and other materials as appropriate, Brown Act Handbook, The Governance Core, SBUSD Governance Handbook and Governance Calendar, Annual Board Meeting Calendar and Board Bylaws/Policies, Strategic Plan, LCAP, District Budget, District Budget Development and Calendar, and District Leadership Staff List and roles.
- The governance team will schedule a workshop/conversation meeting prior to or at the first Board meeting held with newly elected Board member(s).
- The Superintendent will schedule an orientation meeting with new Board members, to introduce her/him/them to the cabinet and allow for questions and clarifications regarding roles and responsibilities.
Establishing district multi-year and annual goals is critical to a forward- thinking, proactive Board that is committed to continuous learning.
➔ Important to the work of the Board is the ability to track progress over multiple years.
➔ Critical to governance work is data-driven decision-making that promotes clarity of direction, focus, and alignment. Setting goals ensures that the work of the district is focused.
The annual goal-setting process, district mission, and the Superintendent evaluation will follow an established calendar.
- June – Review past year accomplishments and status of goals.
- July/August – Set annual goals, including those in the District LCAP, and establish a schedule of progress reports.
It is essential that important and accurate information be communicated to members of the Board, the staff, and the community in as timely a manner as possible.
➔ The governance team recognizes that some situations have legal or other considerations that may place restrictions on what may be told to the media or public.
The governance team commits to speaking with one voice. The designated spokesperson will vary depending on the issue or situation:
- Crisis/Disaster: The Superintendent is the primary spokesperson and may involve the Board president at his/her discretion.
- Meeting Information: (e.g., Board meetings, agenda items, study session): The Board president and the Superintendent will serve as primary spokespersons or may choose a designee.
- Core Values, Vision, District Priorities, and General District Information: All governance team members may serve as spokespersons utilizing developed and agreed upon, key messages.
For requests via email regarding Board business:
- If a Board member receives an email request from a member of the public, the trustee will respond and copy the Board president and Superintendent on the response, as needed.
- If the request is sent to the Superintendent, she/he will copy the answer to all the Board members.
- If the email is sent to some or all Board members, they will refer the request to the Board president with a copy to the Superintendent (if the Superintendent is not already copied). The Board president or Superintendent will agree on which of them will respond, copying all trustees.
For requests from the media:
- A Board member may answer a request from the media or recommend that the request be directed to the Board president or the Superintendent.
- If the Board member answers the request directly via email, he/she will copy the Superintendent and Board president. If the trustee answers the request directly via conversation or phone call, he/she will inform the Superintendent and Board president.
Board members want to be accessible, responsive, consistent, and fair in dealing with complaints, concerns and recommendations from staff and the community.
➔ The Board values open communication and timely resolution of issues.
➔ Board members understand that receiving concerns, complaints and recommendations may be an opportunity to explain the role of the school Board.
When approached with an issue or concern, trustees agree to:
- Listen openly, being careful to remain neutral.
- Remind staff and members of the community that no individual trustee has the authority to solve the issue/concern.
- Encourage addressing this with the person who can most directly help with his/her concern, e.g., teacher, principal, or Superintendent.
- As appropriate, explain the district complaint or grievance process.
- Board members will notify the Superintendent of the issue or concern, as appropriate.
- As appropriate, District/school staff will acknowledge concern and respond in a timely manner.
The governing Board recognizes the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of information acquired as part of a Board member’s official duties.
The responsibility of the Board includes being privy to closed sessions or confidential information about district litigation, personnel, negotiations, Superintendent evaluation, or other issues permitted under the Brown Act.
- The Board will work to maintain the public’s trust by not breaching confidentiality.
- If Board members inadvertently or accidentally violate a confidential issue, the Board will take immediate responsibility for their action.
- Confidential items will be reserved for full Board discussion.
The Board wants to be informed about instructional practices and the needs of the students and staff with regard to school programs.
➔ The Board respects the busy schedules of staff and the concern that can be created by well-meaning, but unannounced visits to schools.
➔ The Board members understand that certain roles and relationships require extra care when visiting schools.
- As a professional courtesy, Board members will schedule school visits when the intent of visiting in an official capacity.
- In most cases, the Superintendent, principal, and/or designee will accompany Board members on these classroom visits.
- Board members requesting a meeting with school staff or administration will schedule this meeting through the Superintendent.
- The Superintendent will ensure that staff is aware of the process and protocols for Board members visiting the classroom.
- Board members are encouraged to visit schools and attend school events.
- When visiting with teachers of their own children, Board members will make it clear that they are acting as parents rather than Board members.
Board members should understand and be involved in the collective bargaining process to ensure that the District is represented well by those selected to negotiate on behalf of the Board and the community, while also ensuring that the ethical, fiscal, and educational goals of the SBUSD community are presented in the actions taken throughout the collective bargaining process.
To achieve this, the Board members should:
- Participate by providing direction and guidance to those selected to represent the Board (District Negotiating Team). A Board member will not participate in the individual negotiation sessions, either directly (at the table) or indirectly (observing the District’s negotiation team).
- Create the most positive environment possible to support the negotiation process; (e.g., Superintendent will endeavor to hold regular monthly employee-employer relations (ERR) meetings with each union’s Lead Negotiator and President). The Superintendent and management team member shall endeavor to hold regular meetings to maintain consistent positive communication.
- Set the District’s collective bargaining parameters for its negotiation team.
- Expect, as the representative of the Board, that the Superintendent will ensure that the Board, collectively and individually, is informed of the issues and strategies implemented within the collective bargaining process.
- Expect, as the representative of the Board, that the Superintendent will recommend, for approval of the Board, the Chief Negotiator and the members of each of the District’s negotiation teams.
- Encourage open communication to all those impacted by negotiations, within allowed parameters.
- Expect, while the negotiation process is taking place, that the Superintendent will be available to address the challenges related to the district. As the representative of the Board, the Superintendent will guide the development of the bargaining strategy and will be primarily responsible for facilitating the collective bargaining process.
To enhance communication and collaboration between the Governing Board and the student body and to teach students the importance of civic involvement, the Board recognizes the importance of student voice and supports the participation of high school students in district governance.
In January 2021, the SBUSD adopted Board Bylaw 9150 to create the position of Student Board Member, including the selection process and the description of the position:
- Annually, the Board reviews/approves the job description for Student Board Member and directs Staff to promote schoolwide outreach and an election process at the high schools. All high school students are encouraged to apply.
- One finalist from each high school shall be nominated. The Board shall interview each of the finalists in Closed (Executive) Session and shall then choose the Student Board Member from among the finalists, by majority vote of the Board in Closed Session.
- The term of the Student Board Member shall be one year, commencing on July 1.
- The Student Board Member:
- Has preferential advisory voting rights.
- May attend all meetings except closed sessions.
- May be appointed to subcommittees (if student is willing and able).
- Is seated with Board members for meetings and invited to all events.
- Receives all materials when Board members receive them (except Closed Session).
- May receive mileage reimbursement.
- May receive elective credits for school Board service.
- Is not liable for acts of the Board.
- The Superintendent or designee, at district expense, may provide learning opportunities to the Student Board Member through trainings, workshops, and conferences, such as those offered by the California School Boards Association and other organizations, to enhance their knowledge, understanding, and performance of leadership skills and their Board responsibilities.
To support a positive working relationship among the SBUSD Governance Team, staff, students, and the community, we have reviewed and have agreed to these responsibilities, principles, and protocols outlined in the 2021 Governance Handbook. We shall review and renew these agreements annually.
Affirmed on this day, November 16, 2021
Hilda Maldonado, Superintendent
Kate Ford, President
Rose Munoz, Vice President
Wendy Sims Moten, Clerk
Laura Capps, Member
Virginia Alvarez, Member
Dawson Kelly, Student Member