Governance Training
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The VSBA Academy – Board Development & Training Opportunities

For information about board development and training, contact Samantha Bosserman Deputy Executive Director at Note, all board development sessions are being conducted in person or remotely. For more information on training, please click here.

Through the “VSBA Academy”, the VSBA offers individualized professional development activities designed for Virginia school boards. In addition to custom training, the following topics are offered by the VSBA:

  • Strategic Planning: Developing & Implementing Focused Plans of Action
    A purposeful strategic plan is thoughtfully designed and thoroughly implemented. In this session, participants will work through a basic framework that can be used for the strategic planning process, moving from the assessment and review of student achievement and current practices to the development of long-range plans that include specific action plans. VSBA will work with your Board, Superintendent and Staff and guide them through a full strategic planning process including publishing a community survey, organizing community stakeholder groups, working with the Board, facilitating feedback meetings, working with the staff to establish action steps and providing updates to the full Board.
  • Governance: Understanding the Roles and Responsibilities of the Leadership Team
    An effective leadership team is made up of members with a range of responsibilities from strategic to operational. In this session, participants will compare and contrast the roles and responsibilities of the school board and the superintendent. Challenges faced by board members as they strive to work at the strategic level will be discussed and strategies for fulfilling their governance role will be shared.
  • Facilitated Board Self-Evaluation
    Board self-evaluation provides more than just accountability and communication. It provides an opportunity for building the best possible leadership for the division and community. Commitment to quality, excellence, continuous learning, and local control of the educational system is demonstrated when boards lead by example. The VSBA has developed a facilitated self-evaluation process that will assist your board in its continuing commitment to focus on and increase student achievement.
  • School Board Goal Setting
    One of the most important duties of a school board is to set the vision, mission and goals for the school division. This session will take the Board through a series of exercises to create a set of school board goals that focus on the governance of the school division.
  • New Superintendent: Building a New Governance Team
    After spending much time to recruit and select a new superintendent, boards often spend very little time on orientation. This session is designed to provide time for board members and the superintendent to review governance structures and discuss board protocols and procedures. For those divisions that utilize the VSBA Superintendent Search service, this session is included as part of the search.
  • Operations: Establishing Board Norms and Protocols (The Way We Do Business)
    Effective boards don’t just appear, they are developed. One means of developing an effective and efficient board is to create board norms and protocols that serve as a means of communicating beliefs, processes, and best practices. In this session, participants will reflect on their current practices and protocols. Examples will be provided and reviewed with plans made for any changes and revisions to the board’s current protocols. Systems for evaluating board procedures and effectiveness will also be shared.
  • Superintendent’s Evaluation: Developing and Implementing Models that Meet the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Guidelines
    A quality superintendent evaluation system serves as a link between the board and the superintendent, clarifying expectations and establishing a means to provide professional feedback on performance.  In this session, participants will compare their current evaluation model to the VDOE Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Superintendents. Each component of the Virginia model will be reviewed and discussed in detail.
  • Data: Using Data to Make Informed Decisions
    Board members are surrounded by data – from student achievement, to personnel certifications, to budget figures. Reports abound. In this session, participants will discuss what type of data they receive and how they use it to inform decisions. Emphasis will be placed on developing strategic questions and identifying data that is needed to measure progress toward goal achievement.
  • Virginia Freedom of Information Act 
    The requirements of FOIA impact every school board meeting, from initial notice of the meeting to what must be included in the minutes. Board members’ thorough familiarity with FOIA helps school board meetings flow smoothly and shows the community that the board is committed to the principles of open government. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the requirements of FOIA in depth, including crafting motions required to enter closed sessions. Please note: this training does not satisfy the legal requirement for elected school board members to receive FOIA training.

Participants in VSBA Academy board development sessions receive VSBA Academy credits, which help earn members VSBA Academy Awards!

VSBA Master Board Program

The VSBA Master Board Program emphasizes team and trust building, communications, managing change, ethics, and working together as a team to benefit every child in your school division. Once all four courses are completed, the School Board will be designated a “VSBA Master Board” and recognized at the VSBA Annual Convention. Certificates after the completed courses will also be provided. Each session is approximately five hours in length and will be facilitated by an experienced trainer at the school division’s choice of location. The core sessions include;

  • Building Our Team Part I – This course serves as the foundational course for the VSBA’s Master Board program. Board members will identify characteristics of effective teams and examine the board’s style as individual team members.
  • Building Our Team Part II– The course reviews the definition of a team and explores the importance of trust as well as factors that influence trust. Participants will explore means of increasing board/team effectiveness.
  • Improving Communication Part I: Listening and Understanding – A key component of team work is communication. This course will provide board members with the opportunity to explore difficulties in and barriers to effective communication as well as essential conditions for effective communication.
  • Improving Communication Part II: Responding and Behaving – A follow-up to Part I, Part II will focus on the proper ways to provide feedback and respond to questions and comments. This course will also cover board behaviors and how to build a strong board through communication.

Fiscal Governance Cohort Program

Building Collaborative Fiscal Governance Teams to Improve Student Outcomes is a coordinated training opportunity combining school finance and instructional leadership with school division board governanceand administration. Led by our experienced trainers, Dr. Michael Thornton and Dr. Jeff Smith, this program offers a unique opportunity for collaboration and skill development. Training teams consist of the superintendent, school board chair or vice-chair, members, chief finance officer, chief academic officer, or other school administrators from the school division seeking to strengthen their role as part of a collaborative fiscal governance team. Training modules include:

  • School Governance 101
  • Teaching and Learning 101
  • School Finance 101
  • Putting It All Together: Frameworks for Fiscal Collab oration and Student Success

Budget Services for Governance Teams

One of the most important functions of a school board is school budget and finance. When school divisions are preparing their budgets, it is important for all members of the Governance Team to understand the budget process, know the school board’s role in the process and know how to communicate budget requests to their local appropriating body.

VSBA offers two types of trainings for school board members that takes an in-depth look at the school budgeting process. The trainings will be led by one of the top experts in the state on school board budgets, Dr. Michael Thornton.

Half-Day Group Training Session

In this half day group session, board members will learn their role in the budget process and how the budget relates to the board’s mission and vision for the school system.
Major topics covered during this session include:

  • History of School Finance
  • Overview of the BEP
  • Local Revenue and Federal Funds
  • Budget Process
  • How to Reach a Budget Document
  • Factors Affecting a Budget
  • Building Support for the Budget

Attendees for this session will be from multiple school divisions across Virginia. Full or partial Governance Teams may attend.

Full Day Personalized Training Session

A consultant will work with your Governance to review your school board budgeting process. Discussion will include techniques to present the school board budget to your local appropriating body as well as any specific budget challenges related to your school division. This training session is scheduled based on your calendar and what works best for all members of your team.

For more information about the Budget Services, please click here.