BOARD OF TRUSTEES OPERATING PROCEDURES
For a school district to achieve unified and progressive leadership, the Board and Superintendent must share a mutual understanding and respect for their respective roles and responsibilities. At Midway ISD, the Superintendent and the Board of Trustees function as a “Team of Eight.” The school board is the corporate policy-making body for the District and the Superintendent provides leadership and manages the District within the framework of those policies.
A structured approach to developing a vision for the District and setting goals is enhanced by first developing a system of standard operating procedures.
The following guidelines and procedures have been developed by MISD’s “Team of Eight” as our method to effectively communicate with students, staff, and patrons of the District.
The purpose of placing governance in the hands of the Board and management in the hands of the Superintendent is to ensure the community retains authority over the basic direction, priorities, and values embodied in the operation of the District while also making sure implementation is carried out by a trained professional with a wide range of experience. It also ensures that the Board has the advice of someone well-versed in the immense complexity of school district operations.
Duties of Board:
Govern the District (with the advice of the Superintendent)
To govern effectively, the Board should never take action on an item without first hearing the recommendation from the Superintendent (with exception of action affecting his/her own employment). The Board is never obligated to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation, but frequent denial of recommendations signals that the Board and Superintendent need to review priorities and procedures to make sure no misunderstandings or failures in communications have occurred.
Individual Board members must refrain from confusing their role with the role of the Superintendent and trying to become involved in the day-to-day operations of the schools.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, hiring and evaluating the Superintendent; establishing the tax rate, adopting the District vision statement, adopting the budget, collaborating with the Superintendent, and adopting policy.
The six most essential tasks or roles of the Board are:
- Adopt goals and priorities for the District and monitor success in achieving them.
- Adopt policies that govern the District and review these policies for effectiveness.
- Hire a Superintendent to manage the District; evaluate the Superintendent’s effectiveness.
- Adopt an annual budget for the District and set a tax rate appropriate to fund it.
- Ensure the community is kept informed about the actions of the District taken on the community’s behalf.
- Employ personnel at the recommendation of the Superintendent.
Duties of Superintendent:
Manage the District (within the framework of policies and priorities adopted by the Board)
The Superintendent functions as the educational leader and chief executive officer of the District and is, throughout his exercise of responsibilities, accountable to the Board of Trustees. The education and administrative leadership responsibilities of the Superintendent are complementary and interdependent with the public leadership, governance, and policy making responsibilities of the Board.
To avoid confusion and provide harmonious and progressive direction for the District, both Superintendent and Board must strive to keep the distinctions between their respective leadership roles clearly in mind.
The five most essential tasks or roles of the Superintendent are:
- Assumes administrative responsibility and leadership for the planning, operation, supervision, and evaluation of the education programs, services, and facilities of the District.
- Assumes authority and responsibility for the assignment and evaluation of personnel and makes recommendations for employment and termination of employees.
- Prepares and submits to the Board a proposed budget.
- Recommends policies to be adopted by the Board and develops administrative regulations to implement those policies.
- Provides leadership for the attainment of student performance.
Developing Board Meeting Agenda
Placing Items on Agenda: The tentative agenda is created by the Superintendent and discussed with the Board’s president the week before the regular Board meeting.
Items must be presented to the Superintendent for consideration of placement on the agenda. The agenda normally will be closed at noon of the sixth calendar day before regular meetings and noon of the third calendar day before special meetings.
Board members must request through the Board president in advance any item they wish to have considered for placement on the agenda.
In accordance with Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA), no member can place an item on the agenda less than 72 hours in advance of a meeting, except in an emergency as per Texas Government code. The 72 hour in advance rule shall only be bypassed by a legally defined emergency. Except in those emergencies, items must be submitted six calendar days before the Board meeting (or the Wednesday of the week prior to the meeting).
Each agenda item must be identified in sufficient detail that the nature of the action can be understood by the public. Only items listed on the agenda may be considered at a Board meeting. When notifying the public of a grievance to be heard, the Board must include the grievant’s name in its notice.
Some agenda items are reports that do not require a discussion since the Board is not voting on any issue. The Board does not need to spend time on lengthy discussions of items that are for their information only.
An electronic Board packet is prepared each month to send to Board members the Friday prior to the meeting. Information in the packet is divided by agenda items and includes supporting data for each item so members may have an opportunity to review information before the meeting. The Board packet is prepared to ensure organization and to better conduct Board meetings in an efficient and timely manner. If members have any questions or concerns on any of the agenda items, they are strongly encouraged to call the Superintendent for clarification prior to the meeting in order to eliminate lengthy discussion at the meetings.
Posting Notice of Agenda: TOMA requires that the notice of a Board meeting be posted in a place “readily accessible” to the general public at all times. The Midway ISD notice of Board meetings is posted on a bulletin board at the administration building at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled time of the meeting (at least two hours prior to the time of an emergency meeting). A copy of the agenda is sent to District administrators and to the local news media and is posted on the Midway website attached to the calendar event.
Member Conduct During Board Meetings
Persons Addressing the Board: Community members are encouraged to participate and provide input to the Board. Audience participation at a Board meeting is accomplished by requesting an item to be placed on the agenda or by addressing items on the published agenda. At all other times during a Board meeting, the audience shall not enter into discussion or debate on matters being considered by the Board, unless requested by the presiding officer. A citizen’s request to address the Board as an agenda item shall be made in writing through the Superintendent’s office at least six District business days before the meeting. [See BE LOCAL] Persons desiring to address the Board regarding a specific agenda item shall sign up on a form provided by the Board before the meeting begins. Those who sign up shall be allowed to speak in the chronological order in which they signed up. No presentation shall exceed three minutes unless approved by the presiding officer.
Hearings and Public Hearings: During public hearings, the Board is assembled only to gather information. The Board will not answer questions or enter into dialogue except with their attorney in case of an employee hearing. Rules for the public hearing will be strictly adhered to. The Board will limit response to five minutes per testifier; will accept written (signed) or oral testimony; will not allow duplicate testimony; and will not allow any derogatory comments.
The Board shall observe the parliamentary procedures in Robert’s Rules of Order. All discussion shall be directed solely to the business currently under deliberation. The Board president has the responsibility to keep the discussion to the motion at hand and shall halt discussion that does not apply to the business before the Board.
The Board president will vote on all action items. In case of a tie vote, the item is tabled. The president shall bring the item back to the Board on a subsequent agenda.
Items for Executive Session
All personnel issues must be conducted in an executive session, unless specifically required by Texas Open Meetings Law. Anything that violates the right to privacy, i.e., Texas Open Meetings Act, Texas Open Records Act, cannot be placed on the agenda. Specifically, TOMA requires that the subject matter of the meeting be set forth with sufficient particularity to notify the public of the matters under consideration. Merely stating that “litigation” or “routine business” will be discussed is insufficient. General topics such as “real estate” or “contract” should be avoided. Topics should be expanded/explained to give the interested reader a better idea of the issues to be discussed and decided.
The primary purpose behind having a closed session for personnel matters is to protect the employee from possible unjustified harm to his/her reputation. The provision for closed meetings applies only to deliberations concerning individual employees. If a matter involves a class of employees, such as the salary of a group of employees, it should be deliberated in an open meeting.
As with open meetings, records must be kept of closed meetings. The school board must make a “certified agenda” unless the closed meeting was for the purpose of consulting with an attorney. Participating in a closed meeting knowing that a certified agenda is not being made, constitutes a Class C Misdemeanor. Sufficient detail should be included in the certified agenda so that a reasonable person reading the agenda would understand the scope and nature of the items discussed at the closed session. The certified agenda must be filed for two years after the meeting. It is confidential and can be inspected only by court order.
Evaluation of Superintendent
The Board president obtains input from all members of the Board on the approved indicators on the Superintendent’s evaluation. The evaluation is conducted in executive session. Summative evaluation of the Superintendent will be conducted during the first calendar quarter of the calendar year.
Evaluation of Board
Evaluation of the Board is an assessment of completion of goals established by the Board and working relationship with the Superintendent.
The evaluation of the Superintendent is an indication of the success the Board is having in meeting established goals.
Criteria and Process for Selecting Board Officers
After the canvass of election returns, the Board reorganizes and elects officers. Candidates for president of the Board, vice president, and secretary must have at least one year of experience on the Board. Elections are held in May of each year.
Role and Authority of Board Member and/or Board Officers (set out by state statute)
No Board member or officer has authority outside the Board meeting and no Board member can direct employees in regard to performance of duties.
In addition to the duties required by law, the president of the Board shall:
- Preside at all Board meetings unless unable to attend.
- Have the right to discuss, make motions and resolutions, and vote on all matters coming before the Board.
- Appoint all Board committees, unless otherwise provided by policy or Board consensus.
The vice-president of the Board shall:
- Act in capacity of president and perform the duties of the president of the Board in the event of the absence or incapacity of the president.
- Become president only upon being elected to the position.
The secretary of the Board shall:
- Ensure that an accurate record is kept of the proceedings of each Board meeting.
- Ensure that notices of Board meetings are posted and sent as required by law.
- In the absence of the president and vice-president, call the meeting to order and act as presiding officer.
- Sign or countersign documents as directed by action of the Board.
Role of Board in Executive Session
The Board shall not conduct a closed meeting unless a quorum of the Board first convenes in an open meeting for which proper notice has been given and the Board president has publicly announced that a closed meeting will be held and has identified the section or sections of the Open Meetings Act or other applicable law under which the closed meeting is held. The Board may not discuss other issues. Discussing other District business in closed session is a violation of Texas law. Discussions during executive session must remain confidential. The point of a closed session is to protect rights and interests.
No action of any kind may be taken in a closed session. If the item before the Board calls for action, the Board must first return to open session before a vote is taken.
Media Inquiries to the Board
The Board president shall be the official spokesperson for the Board to the media/press on issues of media attention. All Board members who receive calls from the media should direct them to the Board’s president or designee.
Board Member Visits to School Campuses
Board members are encouraged to attend PTA and other special events on campuses to represent the Board in support of activities. Board members are not to go into teachers’ classrooms or campuses for the purpose of evaluation or investigation. Board members should notify the Superintendent’s office and campus principal of visits to campuses when they are not attending a scheduled activity.
Citizen Request/Complaint to Individual Board Member
When a citizen complains to a Board member, the Board member should remind the citizen of due process and that the Board member must remain impartial in case the situation goes before the Board. The Board member should refer the citizen to the Superintendent’s Office. The Board member shall inform Superintendent of the complaint. When appropriate, the Superintendent or designee shall communicate with the citizen in a timely manner and follow-up with the Board member. The Board, individually or collectively, shall refer all significant criticisms, complaints and suggestions, regardless of the source, to the Superintendent for study and appropriate action or recommendation. The Superintendent shall investigate such matters and shall inform the Board of the results or status of such matters.
Employee Request/Grievance to Individual Board Member
Employees may contact Board members on non-grievance issues. When an employee contacts a Board member about a grievance or a complaint, the Board member should remind the employee of the chain-of-command and remain impartial in case the situation goes before the Board. The Board member should refer the employee to the Superintendent or the appropriate supervisor or administrator. The Board member is encouraged to discuss the incident with Superintendent in a timely fashion.
The Superintendent meets with the Board president on a routine basis and communicates with all Board members via routine transmittals. The Board keeps the Superintendent informed via telephone calls, e-mail, or personal visits.
The Board will communicate with the community through public hearings, regular Board meetings, and regular publications. Individual Board members cannot speak in an official capacity outside the boardroom.
Anonymous Phone Calls and/or Letters
The Midway ISD Board of Trustees encourages input; however, anonymous calls or letters will not receive Board attention, discussion, or response and will not result in directives to the administration. Confidentiality is strictly maintained when possible.
Reviewing Board Operating Procedures
Standard Board Operating Procedures will be reviewed and updated each year and will be part of Board training.