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Board Governance

New York’s charter schools have governing boards with the power to create conditions that maximize student performance. Through virtual and in-person professional development sessions and resources, the NY-RISE Initiative helps ensure boards also possess the skills and ability to uphold that responsibility.

From basic foundational information for new or aspiring board members, to refreshers on legal compliance and the requirements of open meetings law, through specific technical sessions on knowing the appropriate questions to ask when presented with academic and financial data at monthly meetings, our professional development trainings cover a broad and deep array of topics to optimize charter school board oversight. Please find recordings and materials from past sessions below.

These engaging workshops have accompanying session materials to support your implementation. Please note, you will need to create a free account in Microsoft Box to access session materials.

Voting and Executive Sessions: What’s In and What’s Out?

Charter governing boards know that their meetings must take place publicly but that there are certain topics that are more appropriate for private discussion. They regularly enter "executive session" to address matters such as current or pending litigation or employment concerns, as allowed by the NY Open Meetings Law. What many of these boards do not know is whether they can vote in executive session. Or which votes can and cannot be taken outside of a public session.  Join Paul O'Neill for this session to provide the information that school boards need to handle this issue lawfully and well.

Preparing Your Board for Renewal

Is your school seeking renewal this year or next? Prepare by joining a virtual workshop designed for charter leaders and board members who are gearing up to submit renewal applications and prepare for school visits and board interviews.  Governance expert Paul O'Neill and former New York charter authorizer Heather Wendling explain authorizer expectations, review best practices for governance and oversight, and help create an action plan to prepare boards for the renewal process in ways that showcase their strengths.

New Board Member Basics 101

Are you new* to a charter school board and eager to contribute your experience and expertise to ensure better outcomes for students? The NY-RISE New Board Member Cohort with governance expert Paul O’Neill helps newbies gain the knowledge, skills, and peer connections to tackle the learning curve!

 Through a series of four 1-hour virtual sessions, cohort-members deepened their familiarity with the New York State charter environment, including topics like: the nuances of the “charter agreement”; board members’ fiduciary, fiscal, and ethical obligations; the meeting requirements for public entities that are applicable to charter boards; the essential components of boards’ bylaws; conflict resolution strategies; board members’ roles and responsibilities; and more.

*New is a state of mind. Everyone interested in supplementing their onboarding learning and/or revisiting the core principles of effective board governance will benefit from this series of recordings.

Best Practices in School Leader Evaluation

This session with Paul O’Neill of Tugboat Education clarifies the role and responsibilities of the board to establish performance expectations and monitor results; distinguish between the school leader's and the board's decision-making authority over academic programming; and articulate the importance of evaluating the school leader, at least annually, as a key driver of academic performance oversight.

Whether or not you have a formalized school leader evaluation protocol in place, this session will suggest practices to maximize the impact of that process.

Best Practices for Board Self-Evaluation

Paul O'Neill of Tugboat Education provided guidance on the role and responsibilities of the board to establish performance expectations and monitor results towards academic, organizational, and financial success, articulated the importance of self-evaluating the board's effectiveness (as individuals and a collective), at least annually, as a key driver of performance oversight, and shared best practices that make the board evaluation process more impactful.

Whether or not you have a formalized board self- evaluation protocol in place, this session shares practices to maximize the effectiveness of that process. Sample evaluative tools are included. 

Refresher on Legal Compliance for Charter School Board Members

Governance expert Paul O’Neill covered the rules that apply to running public organizations- both the external (laws and regulations) and internal (such as bylaws and board policies). This content is useful for all current board members and those who are considering joining a charter school board.

Analyzing Academic Data for Board Members (Knowing What to Ask)

NY-RISE is building board members' data analysis skills. Paul O'Neill of Tugboat Education and Heather Wendling of WestEd led a training focused on strengthening your capacity to review, analyze, and contextualize student assessment data to ensure you are providing high quality oversight of academic performance. Participants worked with peers to spot issues on sample data dashboards and left with a list of "must ask" questions for future board meetings.

Analyzing Financial Data for Board Members (Knowing What to Ask)

All board members share the fiduciary responsibility for sound financial management of your school. Do you want to build or refresh your knowledge of these responsibilities, common financial reports you will be presented with, and what to look for? 

Join the NY-Rise professional learning community for a presentation designed for board members with any level of financial knowledge to help you play this role effectively. We reviewed the ins and outs of financial reporting, what questions you should be asking about financial data, and some red flags to be aware of. We highly encourage board members in any role (including non-financial roles) to watch this session to better understand how you can support a healthy financial position for your school.

Making Sense of the (Wacky) Changes to the Open Meetings Law

With the recent revisions to the Open Meetings Law regarding virtual board meetings, it is easy to get confused about what is allowed, under what circumstances, and what is not.

Learn from governance expert and education lawyer Paul O'Neill to ensure your board understands these (wacky) changes and stays in compliance!

Leading with Equity for Students with Disabilities in Board Meetings

Would a refresher on special education improve your ability to provide effective AND equitable oversight as a board member? Watch this session recording to learn more about the issues to spot, the pitfalls to avoid, and the questions to ask at board meetings.

In this session, Lauren Morando Rhim of the Center for Learner Equity and Paul O'Neill of Tugboat Education reviewed how charter schools serve students with disabilities, appreciate the key legal requirements for NY charters relating to special education, and (most importantly) understand the ways that special education issues can percolate up to charter boards and how to proactively address them.

Preventing and Undoing Internal Conflict on Charter School Boards

People join charter school boards to foster strong schools, but too often in the course of that work internal conflicts arise that can get in the way and can make board service unpleasant (and worse- ineffective).

Individuals or groups of trustees can come into conflict, leading to a lack of civility, loud, angry board meetings and even strategizing to undermine each other. All of this makes it harder for the board to do its work and to avoid losing board members who want no part of this.  In this session, governance expert Paul O'Neill focused on how boards can go off the rails, how to avoid such problems, and how to remedy them once conflict arises.