Charting a Leadership Course
Fulton County (Georgia) Schools’ district leadership team has revealed a willingness to be bold and transformative in their decision-making. In 2012, school leaders voted to convert their district to a “charter system,” a designation under state law that frees the school system from many state education rules.
School boards are never thrilled with redrawing school attendance boundaries; it , which, if not done with care, can lead to concern and conflict within the community. But sometimes it needs to be done. How can you build public trust in the redistricting process and avoid controversy?
A Guide to Good Board Behavior
Connecticut’s Berlin Board of Education aspires to “boring professionalism.” School board members do more than vote on issues and make policy: They set the tone and model the behavior for the entire district – something Board President Gary Brochu refers to as “soft power.”
An Urban School Board Gets the Job Done
The governance team for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the nation’s 18th largest school system, has been hard at work to close their district’s racial and economic achievement gap. One of the toughest barriers to overcome has been the corrosive impact of poverty on student learning.
Transforming Board Leadership
A school district can get a reputation, deserved or not, and that reputation sticks with them – that is, until something big happens to change it. Here is the story of an Illinois school board that changed its high school’s culture and ended up enhancing the reputation of the entire district.
Merging Together as One District
It was a big deal when the 2,400-student Central Valley School District won the AAA Championship of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League in 2010. A very big deal, considering the team was in its first season and was the product of the first voluntary district merger in the state’s history.
A Michigan School Board Meets Tough Challenges
The Southfield Public Schools cannot boast of impressive test scores; many of the district’s students are struggling academically. Yet, this Michigan school system is a success story. Despite a growing population of economically disadvantaged and at-risk students, academic performance is rising, and the achievement gap is narrowing.
Ill. School Board: Making Change Work
School leaders in Illinois’ Skokie-Morton Grove School District 69 knew they had to make some major changes in how they did business. After lengthy talks with their teachers union, school officials broke away from the traditional salary schedule and tied future compensation to inflation -- a move that should help stabilize future budgets.
Tenn. School Board Dissastified with Status Quo
The leadership of Tennessee’s Hamblen County School District is experienced and stable. But that stability and experience doesn’t mean the district’s leadership team is satisfied with the status quo. Forward thinking and assertive leadership are necessary constants in managing Hamblen’s 18 schools.
Agents of Change: Milford Public Schools
Sometimes leadership is about forging ahead, based on your own knowledge and expertise. But other times – and often in the case of school boards – it has to do with supporting the administration your board has helped assemble. You must ask questions, but ultimately it may come down to a matter of trust.
School Board Success Story: Arizona
After years of lagging academic performance within their district, the leaders of Arizona’s Balsz Elementary School District searched for a way to turn things around. In 2009, they hit upon a bold approach: extending the school year by 20 days – a policy move that has sparked a remarkable change of fortune.
School Board Success Story: Indiana
The Warsaw Community school board faced some major hurdles. In 2011, the Warsaw Community Schools received an overall grade of C in the state accountability system, with several elementary schools earning Ds. In 2012, the third year of Warsaw’s reform initiative, all schools earned As from the state.
The Regulation of Charter Schools
Where state policymakers have adopted sound policies, charters have proven much more likely to provide novel and exciting educational experiences for children. Evidence suggests states that identify local boards as the primary authorizer of charter schools are more likely to create academically successful charters.
Success Story: Good Governance in Montana
When officials in Missoula, Mont., realized that nearly one in five students failed to graduate from high school on time, instead of assigning blame, they tackled the problem by creating Graduation Matters Missoula. In the first full year of the program, the dropout rate fell by 47 percent.