Agenda Planning: How Board Committees Work

It may be helpful to understand a bit about how items get on the agenda for Board review.  These items may be required by law (for instance when acknowledgement of adherence to new legislation is required or Board action is needed to award the district certain grant funds), may fall under the Board’s direct responsibilities (such as passing an annual balanced budget), or may be proposed by individual Trustees or the Superintendent to set a needed direction.  But much of the Board’s discussion and vetting of items later slated for the Board Table for information or action come through one of two main standing committees – Planning and Performance.  There is also a Governance Committee that only meets quarterly to make recommendations about renewal, revision or creation of Board policy, and there is an Executive Committee that works to place items “physically” on the Board meeting agenda –  but their scope is not the focus of this discussion.  The all Standing Committee membership consists of three (3)  appointed Board members and the Superintendent, with guests from administration and the public to help bring information and perspective to the discussions.  These meetings are also posted and open to the public and include the option of public commentary.

We have two main Standing Committees – Planning and Performance and, simply put, Planning looks forward and Performance looks backward.  So, different parts of an issue may be addressed in different committees (Performance may look at the reasons enrollment is up or down, Planning may then address solutions or changes  that address those reasons).  We have had more specific topic committees in the far past, but they are not recommended for good Board work anymore, since they have a way of partitioning interrelated discussions.  If you have a concern about, say, diversity in hiring, you may look at the past performance of our hiring outcomes, and then may need to discuss a financial or policy change to address the issues.  In the past you would have started in the HR Committee, sent parts of the discussion to the Finance Committee and the Governance Committee, and then ended up wondering who was going to bring a recommendation forward for action by the Board (especially if the committees disagreed about the action they might recommend).  By having the Planning and Performance committees, the issues that need to come to the Board are more seamlessly passed between the committees in time and in structure, and a more comprehensive review of all aspects of the issue can be addressed in even a single committee before coming to the full Board.

Deb Mexicotte

President/AAPS BOE

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