The Five Keys to Conducting Effective Meetings

Lena Eisenstein

Conducting effective meetings is a fundamental and essential responsibility for school boards. School board members are elected representatives of the community and their goal is to make the best decisions and accomplish the best work to benefit the district and student achievement.

Effective meetings lead to more informed decision-making, community transparency and trust, and student achievement. As leaders and advocates for the public, school board members are responsible for ensuring a return on the “investment” that the public has entrusted them with.

School board members must run productive, efficient meetings to do their best work for the district and community. There are simple steps that can be taken by school boards that can lead to successful meetings every time.

  1. Sunshine Laws and Conducting Effective Meetings for School Boards

Sunshine laws provide standards for school boards (and other government entities) regarding access to information and transparency. Many of the regulations of sunshine laws have to deal with meetings.

The school board should issue notice of the time and place for regular school board meetings. For any special meetings, the board should provide notice of the location, date, time, and purpose of the meeting. Some states may require a length of time by which notification must have been made (e.g. 24 hours, etc.) to the public and to board members prior to the meeting date.

It is imperative for school boards to explore their state’s sunshine laws, as policies vary by state. Regardless of how each state approaches sunshine laws, the main function of these regulations is to make certain that there is communication and notification with the public regarding the decisions being made on behalf of the community and the work that is being accomplished by their representatives.

Leveraging the right technology, it can be easy to have board meeting information set up as events that are constantly available on the school board’s website. Any special meeting notifications may also be made through board management software.

  1. School Board Meeting Preparation

Utilizing the right school board management software, your school board can easily and quickly create an agenda based on a template that meets your board’s specific needs.

School board management software supports all types of attachments and these documents can be attached to specific agenda items. School boards can upload attachments to each agenda item.

If your state requires the school board to notify the public of the meeting agenda prior to the school board meeting, board management software can allow for meeting agendas to be posted and shared on school board websites, portals, or social media for public access.

  1. Seamless Access

School boards have the capability to make more strategic decisions related to the district through the continuous access to board materials. School board management software should streamline the board members’ ability to share and retrieve pertinent school board information.

Meeting agendas, past meeting minutes, policy manuals, strategic plans, goal information, and orientation or training resources are all significant materials related to board functions; school board members should have the capability of securely accessing these materials from any device or location. Utilizing the right technology school board members can easily upload, share, and access all of these vital materials.

Modern governance goes beyond the boardroom to engage and equip board members and the community that they serve. The right technology can support modern governance by providing a streamlined platform for school board members to leverage for meeting management.

Having simple and fast access to policy manuals regarding school board governance sets the board up for success in modern governance practices. School board members and administrators can continuously be aware of the laws and policies that can impact the actions taken by the board.

School board management software does not only support boards in conducting effective meetings, but meets the board’s needs where they currently are and works to push the board toward better governance practices and accomplishing their best work.

  1. Simplify and Streamline Meeting Tasks

Finding ways to streamline and simplify aspects of school board meetings is vital to conducting effective meetings. A prime example would be the approval of past meeting minutes.

Many school boards may take the time to read and review these minutes during the school board meeting. This is not only a time-consuming task, but can also lead to missing any information needing to be corrected when individuals are limited to the board meeting to review and approve these past meeting minutes.

By leveraging board management software, school boards can share past meeting minutes instantly. This provides more time to review the meeting minutes before the board meeting for any corrections or amendments and lessens the time needed to review and approve the minutes during the school board meeting.

  1. After the Meeting

Conducting effective meetings does not just begin and end with the school board meeting. The creation of a meeting minutes document after the board meeting can be a difficult and lengthy process. Automated production of the school board’s meeting minutes document, through a board management software, can be a timesaver that can also improve the accuracy of details and information.

The right school board management software can allow your board to utilize both automated and manual capabilities to produce meeting minutes and then easily present those minutes for approval at future meetings. This helps in efficiency and effectiveness in school board meeting minutes, which are used as an official and legal record of the board’s activities and decisions.

If the school board records meetings through video or audio, the footage of meetings are also able to be attached to minutes. All of these documents and files can then be easily distributed to board members, the public, and other pertinent parties.

The accessibility of meeting agendas, meeting minutes, and other related documents is not just imperative to pleasing constituents and maintaining transparency, but pertinent as they are a part of official public record.

Just as meetings are required to be made public (check your state’s sunshine laws for details regarding these requirements), meeting minutes must be made available for public review. Utilizing board management software, meeting documents can be easily accessed and maintained in one streamlined location.

Simple steps can be taken to assist school board members in running better meetings. The right technology can provide additional support for school boards as they work to comply with sunshine laws, prepare for school board meetings, allow seamless access to board information, and streamline meeting tasks.

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Lena Eisenstein
Lena Eisenstein is a former Manager at Diligent. Her expertise in mission-driven organizations, including nonprofits, school boards and local governments, centers on how technology and modern governance best practices empower leaders at these organizations to serve their communities with efficiency and purpose.