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Last morning of annual training conference

December 2, 2018

Phew – I’m exhausted. (Actually, I’m starting to recover, because this is written the next day as I’m starting to bounce back, but I sure was exhausted at the end.)

Saturday (Dec 1, 2018) was a half-day event, being the tail end of the three-day (four-day for newbies like me) event.

For the first session, I chose the one called “Toolbox for Mindful Governance,” and it turned out to be a promotional program for the in-depth training series for board members, called “Masters in Governance.” (Like an hour-long advertisement with testimonials.) I’m wary of advertisements, but this one sold me – I’ll be looking for ways to enroll. Each of the four people on the panel told of their evolution as a board member (and the particular challenges each faced within their school board), and I became convinced that board success is determined largely by the preparation, skill and unity (of goals) of the entire board. I want that, and I want our board to be successful in directing the district. I hope we can find common ground for our goals. If we can, we’re likely to have strong influence and thereby serve the community.

If not, well, at least we’ve got a strong superintendent and district employees and teachers, and the ship will be sailing well without the elected leadership team’s firm direction. They’ll make sure it meet state standards. But I’d rather be part of a team that shapes the district according to local values and priorities – I see that is the purpose of having a governing board. Why else elect resident lay trustees to oversee?

That’s our proper primary job (as I see it): to develop a consensus of community priorities and direct the professionals to incorporate them. It’s their job to use professional skills and standards to achieve them (as well as the state-level goals), and our job to astutely observe how well they meet all of the goals.

(There are other duties we have; may as well use the trustees to be the final venue of appeal, for example, and to formally adopt of policies and budgets. And since they’re there, have them/us perform ceremonial functions as well, like graduations, school concerts and open houses. But collectively directing the professional staff to adequately address local priorities is one of our most important duties, in my book.)

The final session, from 10-noon, was a combined look at the outlook for education in California. It depends a lot on state-level politics, and we heard from a panel of legislators and state-level analysts. I wan’t expecting to get much out of the last session (and I noticed the attendance was way down from the previous general session), but I got enough out of it to decide to do it again at the next conference a year from now.

Next year’s conference will be in San Diego; the year following in Anaheim, and the year after in San Diego again. I was able to include my wife, Gayla, as long as I could guarantee it would be at no cost to the district, but that will be harder next time. I’ll have to save up for her travel, because even though she did not participate in any of the conference events, she enjoyed holding down the fort in the nice hotel room during the day and accompanying us at evening events. She said she wasn’t bored (and we got to stop in at the Emeryville Ikea on the drive home!).

#reflections #training

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