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Principles of Governance

Principles of Governance

Clinton Central School District

Board of Education 

The following information provides some, but not all, general expectations of the Board of Education relating to the conduct of its members.

A. During Board Meetings

1. We listen carefully and respectfully, seeking first to understand what the other person is saying (then we speak clearly and concisely, seeking to be understood by the other person).

2. We honor and respect each other's opinions/perspectives, asking questions when needed for further understanding.

3. We are mindful of our words, tone of voice and body language when we interact with each other so as to maintain respect for one another.

4. We maintain an awareness of our behaviors and the perceptions that may be created in others observing us.

5. We speak briefly and directly to the question- we do not sidetrack the discussion, we stay on point.

6. We acknowledge that all ideas add value.

7. We state our interests and views without attacking others.

8. We seek to operate with as much transparency as possible.

9. We conduct ourselves within commonly understood principles of integrity.

10 We will not personally criticize one another under any circumstances.

11. We will limit side conversations with one another.

12. We recognize we live in a digital world connecting us to work and family.  We will allow cell phone use in the business meeting for imperative or emergency calls with a quick text response or momentary leave of the room to respond.  An almost invisible use of the cell phone is the objective here, paying close attention to the perceptions others might have of this distraction impacting our responsibilities as board members.

13. We appreciate public input. The public comment section of the board meeting is an opportunity for board members to listen to the concerns and ideas of community members.  It is the board president’s responsibility to refer all comments to the appropriate personnel for action and/or response.   

B. Between Board Meetings

14. Protocols for use of e-mails as means of communication.

E-mail should be used as a means of clarification, meeting coordination and dissemination of information.  All board members should be aware that any e-mail communication sent might be forwarded to other individuals and/or third parties. Such communications may be subject to subpoena or release under a Freedom of Information Law request.  Individual users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail use. Information shared and/or contained within an e-mail message may be accessed, used, and disclosed without the knowledge and/or consent of the user.  Therefore, extreme caution should be used to avoid improper dissemination of information.

a. E-mail should be informational not a forum for discussion or as a means of rolling deliberations.

b. E-mail for the purpose of clarification or questioning should be sent to all board members and the Superintendent of Schools

c. E-mail should be read for content before sending. 

d. Review e-mail for tone before sending.

e. Check spelling before sending.

f. E-mail should never contain confidential information or other personal identifiable information that may become an unwarranted invasion of someone's privacy.

15. Protocols for information requests.

Effective boards ask questions and seek information to make sound decisions. It is important for school board members to ask questions in their representative capacity. It is generally recommended that the board develop set protocols, in conjunction with the superintendent, that define the best manner to request information.

Establishing and maintaining  clear procedures for the handling of such requests will bring efficiency and clarity to the information request process as well as avoid confusion, miscommunication and unintended strained board relations.

a. Questions from individual board members should be centered on topics or matters which are, or will be, before the board for decision.  Generally speaking, board members have no greater rights to information unrelated to matters before the board than that of the general public.

b. Most requests for information require administrative and staff time to retrieve, interpret, and assemble, in a report.  This can become cumbersome if a number of board members contact the district routinely for information and research on all types of subjects.  The type, frequency and timeliness of information requests from individual members could eventually tax (and divert) administrative and staff resources, which in turn, could impact the daily operations of the schools and the District.

     i. Information requests should go directly through the superintendent or board president, depending on the nature of the information sought, who can then determine the best manner in which to address and route the  request.

     ii. In the event that a request requires the collection and/or assembly of voluminous data, the preparation of a special report, etc., which will divert significant staff time, the superintendent should notify the requestor(s) and the entire board of this concern.

     iii. In such case, the board president will place the request for information on the next meeting agenda (for executive session, if appropriate) to determine if a majority of the board agrees that the requested information is important for its future decision making.  At that time, the board member(s) requesting such information should provide the reason(s) for the request including why the member(s) believe(s) the board needs the information.

     iv. If the board determines the requested information is important for its decision­ making, it will establish a timeline for the Superintendent to gather and supply the information.

c. The board should be apprised of most, if not all, information requests even if specific requests don’t require extensive time and resources. This should help the board to gain a general sense of both the type and frequency of information requests which are being made.

d. Unless a compelling confidential or legal reason exists, reports and other information generated for responses to information requests from individual members should be shared with all members of the board.

Also consider other items as General Expectations

□ We will strive to know our duties and authority and will not interfere with that of the Superintendent and administration.

□ We will devote the time needed to do a good job.  We will read the background materials the Superintendent prepares and forwards to us.

□ We will not pretend to be instant experts on school matters.  We don’t expect to understand all the problems and functions of a school system in a relatively short period of time.

□ We will not jump to conclusions.   Instead, we will strive to hear and weigh all the facts.

□ We will keep our minds open to change.

□ We understand that the Superintendent is practicing a career- a highly complex one for which he or she has prepared with formal training and years of progressive experience.  His or her reputation is on the line in the practice of that career and for that reason, if not any other, the Superintendent can be expected to have learned more about the practice of school administration than the average board member.

□ We will not make promises outside board meetings, not only for legal reasons, but also out of respect for the ethics of the situation and regard for the other board members and the Superintendent.   The entire idea of democracy and an effective board rests on the concept of collective judgment.

□ Whenever a board member wishes to discuss an action of the Superintendent that he or she may think was improper, the board member should do so in private- away from the glare of publicity.  The entire board should be notified and an executive session held in which the Superintendent can respond.

□ If someone  raises a concern to individual board members about the administration or operation of the district, we will strive to listen but not agree.  Being supportive of the Superintendent and administration shows that the board has confidence in itself and in the district management team. .We will strive to follow and refer to the chain of command in these areas.

□ We will not surprise the Superintendent at a board meeting with resolutions, problems, and issues without his or her prior knowledge.  We acknowledge that if a board member does so at a meeting, the Superintendent probably will not have the necessary data at hand to allow full and complete discussion of the issue.  We acknowledge that incomplete data and discussion may lead to unwise decisions.

Adopted:  September 24, 2019