August 13, 2009
The primary role of the board of education is to make decisions. A majority of the board must vote in the affirmative to pass a motion, regardless of the number of members present. Each member’s vote on all motions is recorded in the minutes. (Board Policy BDD)
Board chair responsibilities
Board chairs in Oregon may make motions, second motions, discuss and vote on all issues. OSBA suggests that chairs view themselves as “servant leaders” who first encourage other members to make the motions, second and discuss them, but then step in and participate in each phase after others have had the opportunity. As locally elected members of small governing bodies, board chairs should not remove themselves from the process just because they are the chairs.
It is the chair’s responsibility to ensure that the motion being voted on is clearly understood. The chair also has a responsibility to ensure that the process is not short-circuited by procedural errors. Remember that one of the goals of Robert’s Rules is to protect the rights of the minority.
When debate ends or a motion to move the previous question has been made, seconded and passed by a two-thirds majority, it is time to vote. The chair should state the motion and, if necessary, explain the repercussions of the vote. Then the chair should call for those in favor of the vote, and record the number, then for those voting against, and finally for those wishing to abstain. After the vote is taken, the chair should state for the record whether the motion passes or fails, and the number of votes for each side. At that point there should be no further discussion on that motion.
The chair should check with the board secretary to make sure he or she has clearly recorded the motion and all the names associated with the vote. A simple pause, with a glance at the board secretary, and his or her nod may be all that is needed.
The chair should then move to the next item on the agenda.
A majority of the members of the board (a quorum) must be present to legally conduct business. Again, a quorum consists of three members of a five-member board, four members of a seven-member board, or five members of a nine-member board. (ORS 332.055)
Affirmative votes by a majority of a board are required to transact business. Remember: It takes a majority of the board to be a quorum; the same number must vote in the affirmative to pass a vote. (Board Policy BDDD)