By Jennifer Wohlleb
School board members looking to “get in shape” can do so at KSBA’s Winter Symposium, without even breaking a sweat.
KSBA is offering a boot camp, Dec. 5-6 at the Louisville Marriott East, for new school board members to jump start their service, with five sessions geared toward the board’s role in policy making, finance and ethics, as well as an overview of the skills and knowledge necessary to be an effective member of the team.
“The idea for the boot camp came out of feedback from evaluations in previous years and from talking with school board members about what they needed when they first came onto the board,” said Kerri Schelling, KSBA’s director of Board Team Development. “What we have done is take five of the most fundamental topics from the KSBA Academy of Studies and packaged them together so that new board members could have an easier time choosing what they wanted to take in their first training opportunity.”
The five classes will not only be a good base of knowledge for new board members, she said, but will provide them a support group.
“Anyone who signs up for the boot camp will move through the five classes over the two days with their cadre of fellow campers, which we think will not only give them the opportunity to get this knowledge, but will also be a great chance to network and really get to know the other members of the Class of 2015,” Schelling said.
These boot camp classes are not limited to new board members, nor are new members required to attend these sessions.
“Any board member, regardless of how long they’ve served, is welcome to attend all of the boot camp or individual sessions, and there is no requirement that new board members participate in the boot camp,” Schelling said. “Any participant can register for any of the more than 20 workshops offered during Winter Symposium, and I encourage everyone to look thoughtfully at the lineup because we have some really great sessions that would be of use no matter how long you’ve served. In fact, we have sessions being offered for the first time that would be ideal for veteran board members.”
One of the sessions they may want to consider attending is a new one geared toward understanding MUNIS, the financial system that all school districts in Kentucky use.
“This is one of the pieces we’ve heard repeatedly from board members that needs to be offered,” Schelling said. “We’re excited that the Kentucky Association of School Business Officials has put together a workshop specifically for board members on understanding the MUNIS report and what it can do, and how to work with their finance officers to make sure they have what they need. This session will help board members unlock the mysteries of MUNIS.”
And for school board members still needing to meet their new annual training requirements in ethics, finance and superintendent evaluation, Winter Symposium will offer sessions to fill all of those training hours.
Schelling said the welcome session that kicks off each Winter Symposium will be expanded this year, as it is following every election cycle.
“It is a great way for everyone to start off their conference,” she said. “They will get to learn a little bit about the history of KSBA, talk about what the role of the board member is, have the chance to meet some of the KSBA staff and officers, and it gives everyone the opportunity to talk and get the most out of the time with their colleagues from across the state.
“On Friday night we will be hosting a tailgating reception, for all conference attendees and their guests. This annual event has proven to be a fun time for all. We have great hors d’oeuvres, terrific door prizes that they can win, and it’s a really good way to end the first day of the conference.”
Attendees at the symposium also will hear from two high energy speakers with great messages for school board members. Saturday’s plenary session speaker, Jim Burgett, will talk about the Art of School Boarding, while Friday’s luncheon speaker, Steve Gilliland, will focus on the conscious choices people make every day that impact others.
Schelling cautioned that the deadline to reserve a hotel room at the Winter Symposium rate is Nov. 21.
“We know there isn’t much time between the November election and the rooming deadline, so districts may want to be prepared once the election results are certified to determine their board members’ availability to make sure they have a place to stay. It’s an excellent opportunity for new board members to learn about their role and we don’t want anyone to miss out” she said.
— Click here for more information about Winter Symposium.