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Eight Roles of a Charter School Board Member

board governance Nov 06, 2019

No other singular variable is more important for the health and vitality of a school
then the way it is governed. Every failure of a charter school can be traced back, in some form or fashion, to the board that governs the school. 

Whether the board is comprised of parents, educators, community volunteers, or other individuals, proper delineation of roles is essential.

Board members who do not have a clearly definable role may, on their own, create a personal role that may not fit the best interest of the board.

This confusion over roles can create resentment amongst members; encourage mediocrity, lead to frustration, loss of trust, and poor governance. To help board members focus on long- term planning and resist the tendency to micromanage, charter school boards should develop clear governing roles and responsibilities for all charter school board members and review them annually.

Take 10 minutes to watch the linked video and download a copy of the critical roles that I have identified through not only my almost decade of experience training  board's nationally, but my five years as a charter school board member. 

If you'd like a copy of the visual graphic and table: Download a PDF copy of here. 

The Roles and Responsibilities of a Charter School Board (Miller, 2019)

Roles of the board:

What should this look like?

How Often?

Establish and Evaluate Student Outcomes.

The board should establish the desired student outcomes each year (short and long term) with the assistance from the head of school in the areas of academics, core values, and skills mastered. The board should see progress on these specific goals at minimum quarterly (if available).


Establish a healthy working relationship with the Head of School.

The board should work in collaboration with the Head of School to ensure there are clear expectations for reporting (what is reported and how often), communication channels (i.e. parent or staff complaints), and who is responsible for what.


Establish and monitor management compliance with policies

The board creates the box that the operations team and stakeholders work within. Policies should be clear and broad to allow the operations team to develop and implement processes that result in the desired culture. Without policies, there is little guidelines or control for management. The policy manual is a living document. It should be reviewed annually (Governance Committee) and have stakeholder input.

Annual Review

Approving/terminating contracts. (Employee and specific third party)

Since employees are employees of the nonprofit, it is recommended the board approve all employee contracts. The board should have a hiring policy in place for the management team to create a process from. There should be a policy regarding what level (dollar amount) of third-party contracts should be approved by the board. All contracts are vetted and evaluated by the Head of School – who makes recommendations to the board.


Evaluate the executive. (Evaluation should lead to growth plan).

The head of the school should have an evaluation that is based upon the school’s progress in accomplishing the organization’s goals, their ability to carry out the job description, satisfaction of the majority of teachers and stakeholders, how they manage finances, adhere to local, state and federal policy and the state’s authorizer. There should never be a “gotcha” in the evaluation. Areas for personal and professional growth are identified based on the results.

Mid-Year and Final

Oversee and approve the use of operational finances.

The board should approve the final budget (budget created by the finance committee and head of school). The board should approve a clear policy of how the school operates within the budget line items, who has access to funding, and how often the budget should be reviewed. Based on school’s history – there could be a quarterly deep dive and monthly snapshot.


Establish and monitor organization's goals (focused on renewal).

A school with no targets will never miss. The board should be setting the direction for the organization in terms of academics, finances, and legal compliance. There should be annual and long-term goals for each. These are the goals in which the management and governing board are evaluated on.

Evidences could be monthly to annually

Developing the board’s capacity to understand governance.

The board should have its own professional development plan and work towards “getting better” each month as a team. A team that completes, not a team that competes. This could be a training from the school’s operation team on the education plan to a presentation by a third party on the school’s financial audit.


If you are open to a discussion about these roles and responsibilities, and how you can ensure they are implemented with fidelity on your board message me at [email protected] 

Click here to learn more about our board training programs. 

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