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School Governance


NAIS writes the book on how to be a “good” trustee. These independent school “norms" are often different from how most other Boards operate. The job of a trustee requires asking difficult questions, Particularly as relates to the school’s mission. For example, why is the school doubling down on woke ideology?​

School bylaws are helpful to read. For example, how are trustees nominated, vetted, and selected each year? Are there term limits? What board committees exist? How is the board evaluated? What goals does it set for itself? Who assesses if board members are fulfilling their duties?

What They Say

Reach consensus

Always support the Head of School

Be strategic, stay out of operations

Act in the best interests of the school

What It Means

Leaves little room for vigorous debate

The board essentially works for the Head

Don't question process or how programmatic decisions are made

The “lived” experience of your child should not affect your ability to be a good trustee

The 3 Jobs Of A Trustee

Why do people serve on boards? Loyalty to the school's mission, desire to ensure the institution's long-term success, status, and potential influence that it confers. Boards are populated with busy people, but schools need people who can “do the bulk of the work” and also those who can give/raise money. High-functioning boards are composed of people with diverse areas of expertise and skill sets, such as law, real estate, finance, etc., depending on the school's needs. Ideally, the nominating committee would prioritize viewpoint diversity.

Uphold The Mission Of The School

Has the mission of the school changed? Why? What is the process by which the school determines its priorities?

Oversee The Head Of School

Is there a formal review process? How are goals set and evaluated?

Act As A Fiduciary

How financially fit is the school? How much money is allocated to DEI, staff consultants, programming, professional development?

Helpful links

The Naked Dollar Article

"Promote Great Governance"

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