A Prime Resource in External Relations
August 01, 2022
Appears in August 2022: School Administrator.
During 35-plus years of work with superintendents and school boards, I’ve been impressed by the creative, influential role board members can play in the arena of external and stakeholder relations as the following two real-life scenarios demonstrate.
Passage of a mid-size Midwestern school district’s property tax levy renewal by a whopping margin largely resulted from enthusiastic support of the business community. The buildup of that support began a year before the election when the school board’s community relations committee, working closely with the superintendent, fashioned a strategy to cement the district’s relationship with the chamber of commerce.
Two key elements were, first, to secure the school board president’s appointment to the chamber board and, second, for the chamber president to persuade her board colleagues to create an ad hoc committee to explore practical ways to strengthen the district’s ties to the chamber, which was co-chaired by the school board president.
Over several meetings and reports to the chamber board, this ad hoc committee documented the tremendous contribution the district was making to business attraction and retention in the metropolitan area, demonstrating the handsome return the community was receiving on its investment in K-12 education.
In the second case, a $75,000 grant to a large district in the Southwest from the community foundation enabled the district to retain a consulting firm to assist in developing and piloting a model for blended in-person and virtual instruction at the high school level. The grant award — the first to the district from the foundation — followed two meetings.
First, the superintendent and two school board members recruited by the board’s external/stakeholder relations committee met with a senior program officer at the funder to discuss the pressing need for a blended instructional model. The same district trio subsequently met with the foundation CEO and the senior program officer to walk them through the grant proposal the district had submitted.