Quick Guiding Principle to Simplify What Might Feel Overwhelming

This charter school governance is a pretty funky paradigm.

The basic premise is that a charter is a contract to increase student achievement. This contract is given to a volunteer board of trustees. Charter schools vary in size but can range from $1M to $40M organizations. The organization’s volunteer board typically meets 10 times a year for 2 hours – so that is less than 24 hours to govern a multimillion dollar business. As volunteers this isn’t your day job – not even close, it’s probably your 4th or 5th primary responsibility – most likely you are a professional with a full-time workload, maybe you are a spouse, a parent, serve on another board or two, coach a team, etc.

In addition, most nonprofits are guided by a team of professionals who have a great deal of governance experience…but in the charter school context, most charter school leaders have never worked with a board before.

No wonder this assignment might feel overwhelming.

So take a deep breath and use the following as a quick grounding guide:

Structure your board’s work, composition, committees and meetings to answer these essential questions:

Academic Achievement
Are our students making progress toward attaining the highest level of academic achievement?

School Climate and Culture
Has our organization established a powerful climate and culture in which students can thrive?

Financial Viability
Is our organization financially viable with the necessary resources to deliver an exceptional educational program?

Human Capital
Does our organization recruit, develop and retain exceptional staff?

Governance
Are we governing effectively? Do we have a succession plan in place for the board and CEO?

Use these questions as a touchstone for the work of the full board, committee work and insist that at each of your board meetings you are referring to and answering these questions.

Organize your board and your board’s work to answer these key questions and you will feel more focused, in control and will be focused on the things that truly create great outcomes for kids.