Monday morning, too early for even the saints, I think, the Board of Education will be going to Balarat, the Denver Public Schools mountain property used for experiential learning experiences for mostly 5th graders. The objective supposedly will be “Board Procedures, Policy and Governance,” per Nate Easley.
Right now, the board uses a version of the “policy governance” structure to manage the district, which on it’s face is supposed to mean that this structure “enables the board to focus on the larger issues, to delegate with clarity, to control management’s job without meddling, to rigorously evaluate the accomplishment of the organization; to truly lead its organization” (Carver, 2010). My position has always been that this is all well and good, but this sort of structure is only workable when all systems are running correctly. You can’t really back off until you have a reasonable assurance of that.
I’m reading through The Policy Governance Model and the Role of the Board Member by John and Miriam Carver, which is the definitive publication that talks about policy governance. There is a very important passage here that really is my own driving force, that says
So if you are a board member, you must make your decisions on behalf of the owners, not the staff, today’s clients or recipients, or yourself. Morally, even if not legally, you and your board colleagues are agents of the owners.
I take the “owners” to mean YOU. Taxpayers, residents, parents, families, etc.
Supposedly this structure is supposed to create the single voice of the board. But really what’s been happening is majority rule, and dissenting voices are supressed.
My conditions for going included talking about a governance structure that included a more collaborative governance structure. I’ll be asking the group to consider a 2/3 vote to be a real majority, not just a simple majority; in other words, you would need 5 votes to pass something, not the current 4. This would require “the other side” to convince at least one of the members of the current board minority to go along. This means that the majority would have to actually compromise to make a decision palatable to the minority.
Of course, I communicated this condition to the board president nearly two weeks ago. He has not had the courtesy to even respond.
This doesn’t portend the best outcomes. I’ll keep you posted.