Being a new board member on a charter school can be daunting. Clearly ensuring legal, financial and policy compliance is an essential role but what are the additional responsibilities a board member assumes? And, most importantly how do you deliver this information without overwhelming your newly elected members? A few strategies to effectively onboard your newly elected board members:
1. Orientation:The new board member orientation should provide an overview of school history, presentation of the strategic plan, introduction to school leadership team, board norms and expectations, board structure, committee charters and an introduction to charter school financials. Even if a financial wiz, there are many nuances to charter school finance that are helpful to understand.
2. Board Handbook: A Board Member Handbook with the essential board documents should also be part of the induction process. Why? I recently organized a board portal for a client assembling over 150 documents. Assembling a handbook can help new board members understand what core documents are requisite for serving. If you would like a sample list of contents, email me here.
3. Ongoing Onboarding: Training should continue after orientation. Establishing a board calendar featuring deep dives on school topics will help new board members assimilate. Most importantly, careful planning provides the space to have generative discussions about the most significant factors facing the school. We suggest framing your calendar around key essential questions such as:
- Are our students staying with us?
- Are our students achieving and progressing academically?
- Are we building a sustainable people model?
- Are we building a sustainable financial model?
4. School Dashboards: Make board reporting clear and simple. School Leaders and Board Chairs are taxed with board meeting preparation which can be time consuming. Adopting a board meeting dashboard around the essential questions can help board members quickly discern the health of the school and trend lines to watch.
5. Board Basics Webinar Series: Schools appreciate this convenient and time saving resource for board members. From their home office or while traveling, the portal provides access for your board 24 hours a day. To learn more, click here.