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December 2019

Greetings Families and Community Members,

This month's article will be a bit of a departure from past articles as it is being written in real-time at our School Board Governance Retreat on Saturday, November 16th. This all-day workshop is designed to help our school Board learn about four pillars of effective governance. These are:
  • Develop a Unity of Purposes
  • Reach an Understanding of Roles and Responsibilities of the Board and Superintendent
  • Develop Norms for Sustaining a Positive Culture
  • Develop Protocols for Effective Governance
This workshop was led by Luan Rivera, former CSBA President and expert in the area of Board Governance. Luan helped our school Board develop and understanding of the pillars of the Governance Framework identified above. These four pillars are defined in more detail below:
Governing as a unified team with a common purpose: The foundation of effective governance for any organization is the common focus shared by governing board members, a focus that transcends their individual differences in order to fulfill a greater purpose. Unity of purpose in our district is a collective focus about children, learning, the school district, and public education.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Board and Superintendent: The second essential element of JSUSD effective governance is defining roles and responsibilities and working with commitment, passion, and leadership within those roles. Our governance team will value and respect their essential roles, reach a common understanding of the distinct duties and responsibilities of the board and superintendent, and strive to operate within them. Our board will strive towards a sound, cohesive partnership between the board and the superintendent resulting in a powerful strategic leadership team that builds a positive school district environment focused on enhancing student learning and achievement while earning the respect of the staff and community.
Norms to create and sustain a positive governance culture: Our board worked to develop a sense of 'governance norms' that outline the behavioral expectations for participation. Our norms support a climate within which differences of opinion are civilly and safely shared and promote a dialogue through which consensus is reached. We are striving to create a positive governance culture that is one that is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective, efficient, equitable and inclusive. Our governance team worked to decide on norms that are most helpful to ensure our team is functional end effective.
Protocols to facilitate governance leadership: Perhaps the most important governance principle we learned about is agreement on the procedures that the board and superintendent will utilize to govern the district. Exceptional boards make governance intentional and invest in structures and practices that can be thoughtfully adapted to changing circumstances. Protocols are tools grounded in mutual understanding of respective roles and responsibilities, and strengthen the capacity of the board to engage in constructive relationships with staff and the community in support of students and learning Explicit protocols, agreed to and upheld by the board and superintendent, provide transparency and stability in the governance relationship as the board carries out its roles and responsibilities. 
This all-day workshop really helped our school board become better grounded in these four pillars so we can be a truly effective team. We encourage members of the public to attend our board meetings and share your thoughts and viewpoints with our governance team so we can best serve our students and families. As always, I am available by cell phone at 925-639-7408.