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What Should Board Meeting Minutes Look Like?

Meeting minutes are a formal recording of transactions that happened at a particular time and place.

They’re used by your board, staff, and authorizers as a reference point and for clarification of past activities and actions. As such, your minutes help to ensure continuity within the organization’s transactions.

As a public charter school board your organization is required to to comply with your state’s open meeting laws. Your minutes are a matter of public record and can be requested by a member of the general public at any time. In addition, per the Brown Act and similar legislation, your board might be subject to rules requiring that your minutes be published on your website to keep them easily accessible.

Here’s how to manage meeting minutes that improve your board’s efficacy and easily comply with relevant regulations.

What Are Board Meeting Minutes?

Minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said by members. They’re not a transcript of the meeting.

And, your minutes are legal documents. As such, auditors and other verifiers may review minutes. So, minutes must be accurate and must never reflect the opinion of the minute taker.

What Makes Board Meeting Minutes So Important?

Your Minutes Are a Vital Part of Open Meeting Law {OML} Compliance

Your state’s Open Meeting rules will require you to post approved minutes within a certain number of days following every board meeting. Failing to do this even once means that you’re out of compliance. And that can be an invitation to bring additional scrutiny to your organization.

But, completing the minutes, circulating them, getting them approved, and figuring out how to make them available to the public, can be quite taxing for your team.
Some boards attempt to wrestle with shared Google Docs, or PDFs uploaded to their schools’ websites. But, BoardOnTrack helps you take the minutes, but also helps make sure you make them public on time. Here’s how Aurum Prep publishes their meeting minutes online, on time {click the BoardOnTrack button to see their public portal}.
Also, most states require minutes to include certain minimum items such as attendance, the time the meeting is called to order, the adjournment, and others. BoardOnTrack helps to make sure you don’t miss any of those required things.

Please note: Your state’s open meeting law may have specific requirements that need to be included in the legal minutes of the organization. We recommend you cross-reference our advice here with your state’s open meeting law.


Meeting Minutes Provide Documentation, Should Any Legal or Compliance Issues Arise

If action is brought against you, even years after the fact, your minutes are the source of truth to prove what votes or discussions took place.
Minutes are the legal record of what happened at a meeting. A CEO isn’t hired unless there’s a vote to hire them.  A trustee isn’t appointed to the board unless there’s a vote to do so.
These things all need to be recorded in the minutes, or they didn’t happen. When you need an audit trail of a key decisions or a legal record of whether they board did or did not act, you need to have these minutes preserved, organized, and accessible at a moment’s notice.

Meeting Minutes Establish Institutional Memory

Your meeting minutes, if done well and preserved so that people can find them, are only way to know what’s happened, when, and why. Similar to ensuring documentation is available should any legal or compliance issues arise, what’s in the minutes is what happened. And, for the same reasons, it’s important to have access to this record of what did and didn’t happen.
From onboarding new board members, to surviving transition of CEO or Board Chair, your minutes become a living institutional memory that empower key leaders to contribute to their fullest.
For instance, new board members should read all of the previous year’s minutes to understand what the board has been up to — what key decisions were made; what big issues did the board wrestle with; how does the governance team spend its time.

What Should Your Board Meeting Minutes Look Like?

Structure your minutes to be brief and easy to read.

A separate paragraph should be used for each subject. It’s useful to underline or use bold text to identify the topic’s title.

At the top of the minutes, you should list the name of the organization as well as the date, time and location. In addition, you should list, using full names, those present and absent as well as any guests that are in attendance.

Note the approval (and amendment) of the minutes of the previous meeting. Note the review and acceptance of the financial report.

Finally, minutes need to be recorded in accordance with the order of what happened during the meeting. This allows for anyone reading the minutes to see the flow of the meeting.

Your minutes should summarize what happened; not transcribe word-for-word.

In the first paragraph, specify the time that the meeting was convened and the name of the presiding officer. Briefly summarize the main points of discussion — if it sets precedent, is critical, etc. Otherwise, we recommend you just simply note, “Discussion ensued.”

As conversation ensues, indicate major problems stated and suggestions proposed. Record conflicting points of view for clarification of action.

Record all motions, ideally including the name of the individual who made the motion itself. And be sure to include any abstentions and whether the motion failed or carried.

If any of the attendees arrive or leave during the meeting, minutes should include the time and name within the flow of the minutes.

And, finally, minutes should note the time of adjournment. End the minutes with the name of the recorder and the secretary who has reviewed the minutes.

sample charter board meeting minutes

How Streamlined Is Your Board Meeting Minutes Process?

Are you still wrestling with Google Docs, shared Dropbox folders, or email attachments to share and approve your board’s meeting minutes? If you are, you’re not alone. But, there’s a better way.

BoardOnTrack’s tools built specifically for public charter boards make it easy for you to craft meeting minutes that fit best practices, share draft minutes for approval by your team, and even publish approved minutes to your website using our one-of-a-kind public portal tool. 


See How BoardOnTrack Simplifies Meeting Minutes

Join the next live walkthrough. Learn how the Public Portal can simplify your OML compliance tasks.