Book Review

A Practical Guide to Effective School Board Meetings

by Rene S. Townsend, James R. Brown and Walter L. Buster, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2005, 171 pp. with index, $30.95 softcover

Superintendents know that school board meetings are a reflection of the board-superintendent relationship and a prime way the relationship is communicated to the school community. In A Practical Guide to Effective School Board Meetings, Rene Townsend, James Brown and Walter Buster thoughtfully share an outline for thinking about our important work with boards.

These veteran superintendent authors clearly keep teaching and learning in public schools at the center of their guidance for board meeting preparation. The entire guide is written from a perspective that the school board meeting “presents a unique opportunity for the governance team to take actions that support powerful teaching and learning.”

Notable in this examination of the superintendent’s work is the need for support from the board president, other board members, the superintendent’s leadership team and especially the superintendent’s administrative assistant.

This practical guide supports the design and conduct of board meetings in ways that focus the management of the district on its teaching and learning mission. The authors identify collaborative strategies and workable solutions for dealing with difficult and challenging circumstances. The authors thoughtfully describe how to guide public input to items not on the agenda and items scheduled for board deliberations.

Townsend, Brown and Buster outline a year-long meeting plan that can sustain a strong superintendent-board relationship.

Reviewed by Brian L. Benzel, superintendent, Spokane, Wash., Public Schools