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Cultivating strong relationships By Patrick Rice


Can IASB assist our school

vision, goals) and other priority areas

simultaneously cultivating strong

board in cultivating strong

are minimized.

board/superintendent relationships?

board/superintendent relationships?

Practicing good governance is the

IASB’s field services directors work

key to successful districts. How can

with districts to assess five common

As trustees for the communi-

boards improve their governance? An

governance areas that commonly

ty, the school board has a lot

effective board must first determine its

impact stages of team development

to juggle, including formulating and

level of performance as a governance

and the relationship between boards

adopting policy centered on student

team. Often, boards fall into one or

and their superintendent. Generally,

learning and organizational effec-

more of the following stages of team

governance areas that often wreak

tiveness. With so many responsibil-

development described as “forming,

havoc for the governance team entail

ities, IASB’s field services directors

storming, norming, and performing”

one or more of the following: role and

are often asked what should be the

in the work of Bruce Tuckman, a noted

duties, goal alignment, expectations,

board’s number-one priority. This is

psychologist in the areas of education-

communications, and personality.

a discerning question, because board

al psychology and group dynamics.

How can boards determine which

members realize they must priori-

According to Tuckman, teams general-

one or more of these following gover-

tize their work if they are going to be

ly progress through each of these four

nance areas needs improvement? IASB

successful at governing the affairs of

stages beginning with forming, where

directors can identify the board’s gov-

the district.

boards first begin to establish their

ernance training needs. A common

identity to performing when teams

method is for the board to engage in a

are governing effectively.

board self-evaluation to identify areas


Be careful to see the forest when looking at its trees. Board members often respond to this question by focus-

Equally important, effective

of concern. If concerns are identified,

ing on key details, but fail to understand

boards develop and maintain a pro-

the field services director can provide

the larger principle of what will ulti-

ductive relationship with the superin-

the board with additional training based

mately determine the board’s success.

tendent consisting of mutual respect

on their needs assessment. Addition-

For instance, Bill Nemir, a former divi-

and a clear understanding of respec-

ally, boards may elect to participate in

sion director of Texas Association of

tive roles, responsibilities and expec-

IASB’s Board/Superintendent Relations

School Boards, noted that many board

tations as noted in IASB’s Foundational

workshop which discusses all five com-

members say their primary obligation

Principles of Effective Governance.

mon governance areas. Regardless of

either lies with the taxpayer or the stu-

An effective board needs an effective

which method is utilized, the IASB is

dents. These areas are certainly import-

superintendent and vice-versa.

here to help the governance team con-

ant, but to meet those obligations, the

Enhancing the governance team

sistently monitor and assess their stages

primary responsibility of the board

and establishing and cultivating a

of growth and relationship between the

is to ensure good governance on the

successful relationship do not happen

board and its superintendent if they are

governance team. Without practicing

in a vacuum. How can the IASB assist

to ensure good governance.

good governance, the board’s success

boards in maneuvering through vari-

in carrying out district ends (mission,

ous stages of team development while

Visit catalog.pdf to learn more.

Patrick Rice, IASB field services director for Egyptian, Illini, Shawnee, and Wabash Valley divisions, answers this issue's question.

The Illinois School Board Journal, January/February 2017  

A bimonthly magazine for public school board members and administrators highlighting issues in education.

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