I have had the privilege of serving on my local school board district for the last three and a half years. When I was first elected to the board, I felt overwhelmed by just how much I had to learn at once in order to make deliberate, calculated decisions that would have a positive impact on our students. Still, it felt like no matter how many times I read and reread our weekly “Friday update,” I still felt like I needed more time to really process our district’s financial stability, the impacts of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the different initiatives in place, our progress meeting our goals, a clear vision of our mission, etc. While board meetings were great opportunities to engage with our constituents and hear from them and our students, it has been our Sunday Board retreats that have really made the difference for me.
As a newbie to the board, I wanted to get caught up on the various topics facing the district to join the team in full force and really hit the ground running. I had never heard of weekend board retreats, but I signed on because it felt like an amazing opportunity. At the beginning of my tenure, we scheduled quarterly retreats that would allow staff to provide us with more insight into our budget as well as a more in-depth review session of our facilities update work. In addition to the usual work sessions, we also made time for team building as we all felt that board unity would allow us to achieve more for our community. In efforts to accommodate our busy schedules, in the recent year we have transitioned to Sunday retreats. Truth is, we are not always on the same page but considering that we are all willing to give up our Sundays on a quarterly basis, to continue to build on our team efforts, at least shows that we are all in it for the right reasons.
In learning about my colleagues’ time commitments, their treasures and their talents, I have come to truly realize the power of comradeship. The better we work together, the more we seem to be able to accomplish. So when you hear about our National Recognition as AP District of the year or our multiple Golden Bell Awards, remember our secret to success: Sunday board retreats. Our story is NOT a Cinderella story. I believe that all boards CAN achieve if individuals members learn to look past their own agendas and create a space of open communication that focuses on ensuring that ALL decisions are made with students at the forefront of everything.
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