Bob Rader, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and a founding member of this blog’s Strategic Advisory Committee, has teamed up with two CABE Board members, First Vice President Ann Gruenberg and Vice President for Government Relations Robert Mitchell, to record this informative new podcast on the performance monitoring function of the board-superintendent governing team. In addition to serving on the CABE Board, Ann and Robert are members, respectively, of the Hampton and Montville Boards of Education.
Among the important points that Bob, Ann and Robert make are: the need to tailor performance monitoring processes to the unique circumstances of particular districts (one size never fitting all districts); the need for close board-superintendent collaboration in designing and carrying out the monitoring function; the importance of taking a multidimensional approach to monitoring in order to paint a comprehensive picture of district performance; and the value of transparency in generating public understanding and support. Ann and Robert both emphasize that active board involvement in the monitoring function doesn’t mean the board’s getting bogged down in micromanagement of district affairs The key is to focus board attention on critical “bottom line” performance indicators and to stay away from minor day-to-day management details (such as the supplies line item for particular classrooms).
I’m really pleased that Bob, Ann and Robert picked up on the potential of performance monitoring as a tool for educating the general public and transforming residents into well-informed supporters of their districts. In this regard, many districts around the country are experimenting with practical ways to strengthen this dimension of the performance monitoring function. For example, in many districts, the chair of the board’s performance monitoring committee presents the educational and financial performance report at the regular board business meeting, employing using easy-to-understand graphics (e.g., bar charts comparing actual to budgeted expenditures). In addition to fostering public understanding, this approach signals to the wider community that their representatives on the board are playing a leading role in carrying out the monitoring function, rather than merely serving as a passive audience for staff briefings.
I hope you’ll share your thoughts about what Bob, Ann, and Robert have to say about this critical governing function.