Ways to Make Your Board Meetings More Efficient

By Rick Maloney

At the end of another late night meeting—after detailed briefings on curriculum, facilities, and finances, as well as reports on school performance and a highly capable program—members of the University Place School Board commiserated about what had just happened.

As we triaged meeting materials, deciding what to keep for reference, pass on to others, or throw away, we realized we had discussed much but accomplished little to benefit students. Our meetings had a habit of piling one hurried agenda item on top of another, each discussion in turn curtailed by an urgency to get to the next. We seemed stuck on a treadmill, using up time and perhaps burning calories, but getting nowhere.

What was wrong? Our agenda didn’t work.

Most school boards try to do too much with their agendas, keeping a watchful eye on all sorts of district activities yet failing to accomplish the board’s most basic functions. Once we figured out the difference between board and staff business we were well on our way.

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