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Board self-evaluation comments 5/26/22 – “When we have problems …”

May 27, 2022

At our annual self-evaluation meeting yesterday, I made these comments, which I had prepared as a statement. They were part of my “one positive thing, one negative thing” comments. This was the negative part.

“When we have problems, I think often it traces back to the fact that not all board members are willing to commit to work together and follow our basic procedures. If you examine some of our most important documents, you will see that not all members were willing to sign them.

“I think there’s a feeling that, “Well, the voters in my area elected me, and my only responsibility is to those voters, as well as the people who helped with my campaign. I have no other allegiance.”

“When I was new to the board, I had a similar attitude. But I learned that I also have an allegiance to the current and former members of the governing board, because they are the ones who spent countless hours of uncompensated time creating and shaping the structure we work under. I also have an allegiance to all of the administrators, whom we have indirectly selected for their dedicated service and who are working for far more than just a paycheck. And not just administrators, but other staff and teachers throughout the district, who have given a portion of their lives to this effort, to work together to benefit these 20,000 students. It’s absurd to think we all agree on all of the details. We don’t, but we’ve learned when to debate and disagree, and when to come together to support the best that we collectively can come up with. And we avoid, at all costs, sabotaging or undermining parts that we don’t like.

“I think it’s shortsighted and ultimately destructive for any one of us to conclude, ‘Well, it doesn’t make sense to me, and I didn’t vote for it, so I don’t have to follow it. I’ll do whatever gets me excited, whether or not it aligns with previous decisions or current protocols. If they don’t like it, they can vote me out.’

“I suspect that attitude, and behaviors extending from it, accounts for a good deal of the friction that we encounter as a board. And not only is the community watching, our own employees are watching, to measure how much confidence they will have in this operation. When our employees observe us ignoring norms and undermining the program, I think they lose some respect for their part in the system as well. I think some of them conclude, ‘Well, the board is not united in what they do, so I better not care too much about what I do. I better look out for number one.’

“I think that’s sad. I don’t want to accuse anyone, because I don’t know your motives or what’s in your mind. But if you see yourself in any of these problem attitudes, I hope you’ll consider the effect of your behaviors and look for a way to adjust, for the good of the entire district.”

From → Meetings

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