A.L. school board receives training on effectiveness

Published 9:34 am Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Albert Lea school board members worked with a consultant Monday to discuss ways to improve the board and its responsibilities.

Bruce Miles of Big River Group, a consulting firm out of St. Cloud, spoke with the board. Board chairwoman Linda Laurie said Miles taught them additional information about evaluations of the superintendent and other board members.

“When we’re evaluating the superintedent what we’re looking at is using student achievement and benchmarks to evaluate how well the district is doing,” Laurie said.

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Board members talked after the workshop about how valuable the training was. The board had decided recently to get a consultant from outside the district to work on board roles and evaluations and how to set goals to improve the district.

“I think this will be a one-time workshop, but we’ll take away the information he gave to us to implement that in some of our own workshops,” Laurie said.

Board members worked individually and in groups during different parts of the workshop. They also discussed student achievement, boards that micromanage and how the board and administration should work together.

Miles spoke about qualities of effective school board members, like the ability to make decisions, loyalty to democratic process, accepting the will of majority, respect for district staff, communication and courage, among others.

Miles said he works with about 110 organizations per year, and about half are school districts and nonprofits. He said board members responded positively in a survey about their faith in the district and the board.

In other action, the board:

• Named Laurie as board chairwoman, Mark Ciota as board vice chairman, Jill Marin as clerk, Kim Nelson as treasurer and Bill Leland and Jeshua Erickson as directors. Members then discussed which committees they would represent.

• Set meeting and workshop dates for the 2012-13 school year.

• Named Wells Fargo in Albert Lea, Home Federal Savings Bank, MNTrust, and Associated Bank as depositories for school district funds.

• Approved the master contracts for the food service bargaining unit and the custodial bargaining unit.

• Planned and discussed the upcoming Minnesota School Board Association Leadership Conference that board members plan to attend.