Charter School Governance and the Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Questions Boards Must Address

Charter School Governance and the Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Questions Boards Must Address

Even amidst this extreme situation, you have important work to do to continue to govern a multimillion-dollar public enterprise relied upon by hundreds, if not thousands, of families.

Use these questions to help guide your board’s decision-making and contingency-planning.

Please note: In the midst of this fluid and rapidly changing situation, this resource is by no means an exhaustive list of every item that every charter school board will need to address. You and your team may run into challenges that are not addressed here. And you should always know the appropriate expert in your local area to consult with, especially regarding legal matters. 

Board Meetings

Determine how you’ll conduct the board’s business. 

  • Do we have important board business or deadlines we need to meet?
  • Do we need to cancel board or committee meetings?
  • What will we plan to do if we cannot meet?
  • Can we schedule an emergency meeting?
  • What does our state’s open meeting law allow or require us to do?
  • Are we allowed to teleconference or participate in meetings remotely?
  • Who will we look to for most accurate information about this?

Strategic vs. Reactive Board Business

Be as strategic as possible with the very limited time you have.

  • What are our priority goals between now and the end of the school year?
  • Do we need to adjust these? Reprioritize them?
  • How do we simultaneously maintain strategic focus and deal with this crisis?

The Board-CEO Partnership & Governance-Management Line

The board needs to know that these questions are being answered.

  • How should the board be kept informed?
  • If there are disagreements, what does the CEO decide? What does the board decide?

Ensure emergency operations needs are addressed by the management team.

  • How are we ensuring student safety?
  • Will we need to cancel school? Shift to teaching virtually?
  • How will we decide the above? Who will decide? By when do we need to decide?

Prepare now with emergency succession contingency plans.

  • What happens if our CEO gets sick? Or any senior staff?
  • What happens if our board chair gets sick? Or any other officers?

Communicating with Students, Families, & the Public

Don’t wait until inquiries start rolling in to address communications needs..

  • Who is responsible for our overall messaging direction and actions?
  • How are we communicating with students and families?
  • What should trustees do if a parent reaches out to them directly?
  • Who is in charge of responding to inquiries from the press or the public?
  • How are we ensuring compliance with FERPA? Have our staff and board been trained?

Keep in mind that the situation is changing rapidly. We will keep this and other resources updated. But your charter school’s unique needs might not be fully addressed by these recommendations.

How can we help? Contact us here.

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