Meeting minutes are a formal recording of transactions that happened at a particular time and place. Minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said by members. They are used for clarification of past activities and actions. Minutes help ensure continuity in the organization’s transactions.
Meeting minutes are legal documents that auditors and other verifiers may review. They must be accurate and should never reflect the opinion of the secretary or minutes taker. They should be brief and easy to read. A separate paragraph should be used for each topic. It is useful to underline or use bold face to identify each topic.
Minutes Format: The following should be recorded at the top of the minutes: the name of the organization, date, time, and location of the meeting. Note whether it is a special or regular meeting.
- List the full names of present and absent members. Note any guests who are in attendance.
- In the first paragraph, specify the time the meeting was convened and the name of the presiding officer. Record minutes in accordance with the order of events. Note the approval (and amendment) of the minutes of the previous meeting.
- Note the review and acceptance of the financial report.
- Briefly summarize the main points of discussions only if it sets precedent or is critical. Otherwise, simply note that discussion ensued.
- Indicate major problems stated and any suggestions proposed.
- Record conflicting points of view for clarification of action.
- Record all motions. Some organizations record the name of the individual who made the motion; it is not necessary to state the person seconding the motion.
- Record abstentions. State whether the motion failed or carried.
- Note the time of adjournment. End the minutes with the name of the recorder and the secretary who has reviewed the minutes.
- Remember, minutes are a matter of public record and can be requested by a member of the general public at any time.
Best Practice Tip: Consider posting your minutes on the school’s website or in other easily accessible locations to keep constituents informed about the major decisions made at the meeting. BoardOnTrack’s public portal function makes it easy to do this with a push of a button.
Best Practice Tip: The secretary of the board is responsible for ensuring that accurate minutes are taken at each board meeting. This does not mean that the secretary must take the minutes; he or she must ensure that it is done. It is not acceptable to ask the CEO to take the minutes.
Find an outside person to take the minutes. This will allow all board members and senior staff to actively participate in the discussions. The secretary of the board may ask for a volunteer. Many charter schools have asked junior staff at local law firms to take the minutes, or college students needing to complete community service requirements. The board may also consider allocating a small amount of money to hire someone to take minutes. The secretary, however, should always review the minutes for accuracy.