Common Pain Points With School Board Meeting Minutes

Lena Eisenstein

The purpose of school board meeting minutes is to provide an official and legal record of the school board’s activities and decisions. School board meeting minutes become an official public record and, therefore, should be a document that constituents can easily access and understand. A second purpose of the school board meeting minutes is to reflect the board’s true intentions and goals, which is why it is important to provide a “paper” trail on how board discussions and considerations led to their decisions.

Official school board meeting minutes may be outlined by Robert’s Rules of Order and follow the agenda set forth by the board. Most agenda items are routine, however, properly documenting the meeting as your school board goes through the agenda is imperative.

When considering pain points of school board meeting minutes, most issues can be resolved by utilizing tools and resources to equip the school board with cloud-based software that can provide ease and efficiency while handling meeting minutes.

  1. Recording accurate meeting information.

How you describe the discussions during a school board meeting is as important as making sure that you include all of the materials and information from the meeting agenda. These meeting minutes will give others a perspective of the board’s plans and the work being done.

For these reasons, it is important that the minutes from school board meetings be comprehensive. While they may not be verbatim transcripts of the meeting (although, minutes should still be accurate, especially regarding records of motions), the materials should still be thorough and organized.

For each agenda item, write a concise statement for each action that is taken by the school board, along with a short explanation that gets to the point of the rationale for the board’s decision. If there are any extensive discussions, write a brief summary of the major arguments or points.

Discussions that take place at the school board meeting should be recorded objectively, avoiding any remarks or personal observations that could be seen as subjective or prejudice. Consistently review the school board meeting minutes to check your language to be sure that it is clear and complete.

Leveraging school board management software, like BoardDocs, a Diligent brand, your school board meeting minutes can be easily tracked and adjusted as needed. For voting purposes, BoardDocs allows for votes to be tracked in real time through the software. Electronic voting options are also available.

  1. Maintaining organized minutes and associated documents.

The creation of a school board meeting minutes document after the board meeting can be a painstaking and time-intensive process, especially if the scope of the information that must be recorded into the official record is significant. Automated production of your school board meeting minutes document can be an incredible timesaver that can also serve to improve the accuracy of the details and information that was gathered during the board meeting.

By taking advantage of paperless school board management software, like BoardDocs, your school board can learn how to utilize both automated and manual capabilities to produce meeting minutes and then easily present them for approval at future meetings.

Rather than spending excess time creating and constantly adjusting meeting minutes or a template that may not work for your board meetings, utilize resources that can help you record minutes more effectively while maintaining organization. This not only saves time and energy during the meeting, but promotes efficiency as the minutes would be readily-accessible for review more quickly.

Leveraging BoardDocs, a paperless board meeting software, allows for school boards to record notes for the meeting which can then pull from the agenda, incorporating the notes and agenda automatically into school board meeting minutes.

Many school board meetings may have additional documents distributed to board members or attendees. These documents can be attached to the school board meeting agenda and minutes, and easily searchable through the BoardDocs software.

Should your school board record meetings, video or audio footage of meetings are also able to be attached to minutes. All of these documents and files are then able to be easily distributed to board members and other pertinent parties.

  1. Accessing meeting minutes.

The accessibility of past school board meeting minutes 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.

Some states even have time requirements by which the school board meeting minutes must be made public. For example, in Illinois, school board meeting minutes must be made available to the public within ten (10) days after the school board has approved them. If an Illinois school district has a website, the minutes of open meetings must be posted on the website within ten (10) days of the approval of the minutes, and those minutes must continue to be posted on the website for at least sixty (60) days after their original posting.

Utilizing a cloud-based software like BoardDocs, meeting minutes can be easily accessed and maintained. Not only can individuals view the meeting minutes, but also any documents related to the meeting. School boards can also set up customized content access settings for these meetings, so public view of the meeting minutes may be different than the view for school board members or administrators.

Through BoardDocs, school board meeting minutes are also easily searchable through keyword searches. This feature is helpful as previous meeting minutes may be reviewed for upcoming meetings, projects, etc.

School boards are advocates for their community and are doing important work on behalf of their local public education system. Maintaining well-documented, organized, and efficient school board meeting minutes, while also making those minutes easily accessible, promotes transparency and trust within the community.

Given the intricacy and detail associated with meeting minutes, many boards find that using a robust tool, like BoardDocs’ cloud-based software, helps make recording and accessing school board meeting minutes easier and more efficient, which can ultimately further the board’s performance. Recording and maintaining school board meeting minutes is a serious task, but leveraging the right tools can make this responsibility easier.

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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.