The Work Session at 3pm contains the item E.1.a. – “Board Norms”. This item has no detailed documentation associated with it. Previously, the board was provided with a list of “board norms” that included the following ten items to which they are to commit themselves:
1. Adopting policies, providing stakeholder education, advocating the work of the strategic plan, and developing and allocating resources to support implementation of the strategic plan.
2. Setting the superintendent’s annual performance goals in alignment with the strategic plan.
3. Acting to support the superintendent to maintain district focus on work and priorities in the approved strategic plan and to avoid distractions by using the strategic planning cycle to collect stakeholder input.
4. Directing all stakeholders’ questions, input and discussion directly to the superintendent, providing the superintendent and fellow board members with proactive notice of issues or concerns.
5. Using board meetings to discuss board issues, current or upcoming, with the community, not email, social media, other channels.
6. Requesting information from the superintendent or actions by the superintendent by a request to the whole board, rather than individually from the superintendent or from staff or school personnel.
7. Interacting as a parent of a CSD student in ways that reflect the separation of parent and board member roles, informing the superintendent before contact with school personnel regarding parental concerns.
8. When expressing ideas, opinions and intentions to stakeholders, prefacing or clarifying the statements as personal expression, not representation of the board’s ideas, opinions or intentions.
9. Model excellence and innovation in education governance for stakeholders and peer boards.
10. In interactions in which stakeholders request or expect district actions and decisions, in addition to or unaligned with the strategic plan, educate stakeholders in the strategic planning process, as the process for providing input to the work of the district and its priorities.
I have several concerns about these “board norms”. In particular, I am concerned #5 will prohibit board members from communicating with citizens. Would this “norm” be acceptable for your state representative or senator? The majority of your tax dollars (property taxes plus more than 50% of state revenues) are spent on education. These “norms” seem to keep citizens separated from the governmental entity that decides how these monies are spent in DeKalb. That structure seems to benefit the administrative class to the detriment of transparency and accountability. Item #8 seems to contradict #5. If a board member expresses their opinion or intention, would that not be a violation of #5? It’s all food for though. I look forward to hearing the board’s discussion on these issues.
If the system worked the way it was supposed to work, citizens wouldn’t need to contact board members directly because there would be a proper method for our issues to be addressed. Many problems in the classroom should be addressed with the teacher, but the teacher will say that he/she has no control over whatever the issue may be. So, it would escalate to the principal and that should be the end of it because the principal should be able to handle whatever it is. But, principals often deal only with the PTA and they just collect complaints and do nothing with them. Then what? Regional or asst. supers? The large abyss of the central office? They bank on the fact that we will get over it – whatever it is and never take the issue further. There is no “chain of command” that works. SACS does not understand. If we cannot go to the board, we have no one to go to… unless Elgart wants to start taking our calls! ???