Archive for August, 2009

Monday Updates

August 24, 2009

As we begin the first full week of the new school year, I am making an attempt to bring back to life my dormant blog.  My plan is to spend 45 minutes give or take each Monday to capture experiences I am having on the school board.  I plan to list the calendar for the coming week, highlights from the past week and other items that strike my fancy.

I am sequencing the posts so that people who come to the blog can read from top to bottom on the day I add the posts.  If you are coming to the blog via an RSS feed, the sequencing may seem out of whack.  I don’t know for sure.

Thanks for reading.  Thanks for returning to a neglected site.

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My School Board Calendar – Week of August 24, 2009

August 24, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 6 pm – Accountability Committee

Wednesday, August 26, 2:45 pm – Observe Spangler PLC Meeting

Wednesday, August 26, 6 pm – School Board Work Session (Financials) and Regular Meeting (Board meeting conflicts with daughters back to school night. Debating whether to duck out of board meeting for an hour to attend.)

Thursday, August 27, 3 pm – Longmont Education Task Force

Policy Governance

August 24, 2009

Over the summer, the school board invested considerable time in training on a model of governance called policy governance.  The goal of the policy governance method of board governance is to focus board time and attention more on big ticket items rather than getting involved in day-to-day management.  We will discuss how we plan to move forward with this model more at our meeting on Wednesday, August 26.

In the policy governance method, the board has three primary jobs.

1. Be voice of the community; explain the community to the school district in this case.  The policy governance literature calls this Owner Linkage.

2. Establish Ends (what needs to be accomplished) and Set Limits (things that should not be done).

3. Monitor and ensure performance.

Financial Goals for 2009-2010

August 24, 2009

As noted in the post above, the board is striving to focus more time and attention on ends (what needs to be accomplished) and less on management.  We are establishing ends in three areas: Student Achievement, Finances, and Relationships with Stakeholders.

At our board work session on Wednesday, August 19, we discussed what needs to be achieved this year in the area of district finances.  At our meeting on September 2, we will Student Achievement and Stakeholder Relations.

Here is a brief summary of the Financial “Ends” we discussed – as proposed by Superintendent Don Haddad and his leadership team.

1.  Maintain a General Fund balance to meet TABOR and Contingency reserves and meet all other statutory reserve requirements in the budget process.

             FY10 Tabor Reserve (3%)                               $5,209,000

             General Fund Contingency Reserve (2%)   $3,472,666

             FY10 TABOR and Contingency Reserve:    $8,681,999

My Notes:  These reserves do not include reserves from the MLO that are earmarked for specific initiatives such as technology, focus schools, or keeping class sizes small.

2.  Increase budget allocated to Direct Instruction from approximately 63% to 65% for FY11.

First year goal: Reach agreement with school board, administration, community budget advisory committee and employee groups on the definition of Direct Instruction (what exactly counts as money spent on instruction).  Perform an internal review of the FY10 budget to determine the current allocation to direct instruction.  Propose FY11 budget to reach either 65% goal or a 2% increase in direct instruction budget allocation, whichever is less.

MY Notes: Agreeing on definition is important so that the  merits of this goal can be better understood and analyzed.

We also discussed several initiatives that district staff will be working on in the coming year that are related to these “ends” and the district’s finances.

1.  Develop and implement a long range funding process for operating and capital needs to use for FY11 budget planning that meets the following criteria:

a. Involvement by every school and department with input from staff, parents and community members.

b.  Stakeholder prioritization process and feedback to participants.

c.   Opportunity for community budget advisory committee and school board to  examine district- wide budget priorities together in a timely planning cycle.

My Notes:  Discussed need to examine how we think about technology in the budgeting process.  Historically it has been thought of as a capital investment.  Role technology plays  in instructions suggests it should be thought as an operational expense.

2. Improve district-wide accountability for spending and resource allocation though the establishment and implementation of systemic guidelines and protocols in the following areas:

  1. District cell phones
  2. Food purchases
  3. Petty cash handling
  4. Procurement card usage and approvals
  5. Purchasing authority limits
  6. Gift and gift card purchases
  7. Consultant contracts

 3. Improve vendor access to SVVSD

  1. Post how to do business with St. Vrain on web
  2. Create a user-friendly vendor guide for distribution
  3. Post vendor applications
  4. Refine purchasing processes to maximize savings and expedite work using standing order contractors and cooperative bids

4. Improve Charter School Monitoring and Accountability

  1. Establish separation of charter schools within IFAS (the district’s financial accounting software)
  2. Begin quarterly meetings with charter school administrators
  3. Improve contract oversight and accountability (as evidenced in audit reports)
  4. Review application process, forms and contracts and revise as necessary to meet new state requirements

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Blog technical note: Having trouble with formatting on this post.