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How Our Board Governs

Policy Governance

On Jan. 27, 2009, the School District 27J Board of Education adopted a policy governance model. This model describes the board governance process, board-superintendent relationship, executive limitations and district goals. There are many reasons why the board adopted this model, including being more strategic and increasing community engagement.

Policy Governance Manual 

Principles of Policy Governance

The Board will govern lawfully, observing Policy Governance principles, with an emphasis on (a) outward vision rather than internal preoccupation, (b) encouragement of diversity in viewpoints, (c) strategic leadership more than administrative detail, (d) clear distinction of Board and chief executive roles, (e) collective rather than individual decisions, (f) future rather than past or present, and (g) governing proactively rather than reactively.

1. The Board will cultivate a sense of group responsibility. The Board, not the staff, will be responsible for excellence in governing. The Board will be the primary initiator of governing policy.

2. The Board may use the expertise of individual members to enhance the Board’s understanding of issues, but will not substitute such expertise for the judgment of the Board.

3. The Board will direct, control and inspire the organization through the careful establishment of broad written policies reflecting the Board’s values and perspectives. The Board’s major focus will be on the achievement of intended long-term impacts outside the organization, not on the administrative or programmatic means of attaining those effects.

4. The Board will enforce upon itself whatever discipline is needed to govern with excellence. Discipline will apply to matters such as attendance, preparation for meetings, policymaking principles, respect of roles, adherence to board standards of conduct, and ensuring the continual development of governance capability. Discipline of a board director may occur when that director violates reasonable standards of conduct, whether or not the misconduct occurs in the performance of their duties as a board director. This discipline may include, but is not limited to, private or public censure, written reprimand, or a call for resignation.

a) Continual Board development will include orientation of new or potential Board members in the Board's governance process and periodic Board discussion of process improvement.

5. Although the Board can change its governing policies, it will conscientiously observe those currently in effect.

6. All policies of the Board are contained in this document, and they remain in effect, unless amended or deleted by Board action.

7. The Board will not allow any Board director, Board committee, employee of the school district or member of the public to prevent the Board from fulfilling its duties and commitments.

8. The Board will monitor and assess its process and performance at the completion of each meeting. Self-monitoring will include comparison of Board activity and discipline to Governance Process and Board-Management Delegation policies.

9. The Board’s activities, with the exception of personnel or other matters of a sensitive nature, shall be open and accessible to reasonable scrutiny by its “owners.”

10. The organization, in its hiring and other activities, will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, marital status, disability sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected status in any activity, program or practice of the District, as required by Title VI, Title IX, Section 504, the ADA, and other applicable laws.

Why Policy Governance?

Here are some of the reasons why using Policy Governance as a governing system will specifically help the 27J Schools Board of Education, staff and community.

  • To clarify the purpose, job and role of the Board. Believing it acts on behalf of those who legally and morally "own" the District, the Board primarily owes its loyalty and attention to them.
  • To distinguish between what the Board should accomplish from what the Superintendent should accomplish-even though the Board is accountable for all that the Superintendent and District do or don't do.
  • To help staff and community better understand the role of the Board and the Superintendent, making it more clear about when the Board should become involved in District operations, and how the staff and community can help and influence the Board in carrying out its job.
  • To simultaneously, simply, rigorously and reasonably evaluate Superintendent and District performance according to previously stated expectations of the Board as a whole.
  • To establish and measure Superintendent and District performance standards for key stakeholders, including staff, students and parents.

To help the community better express its values and see them used by the Board and District, especially from an ownership perspective about what benefits should be created in the lives of which groups of students, and the priorities, trade-offs and costs of those benefits for those students, but also from an ownership perspective about any other community values concerning District performance.