Board operating agreements, sometimes called working agreements or principles, are helpful tools to define the specifics of board and administration responsibilities, governance principles, roles, responsibilities and expectations of individual board members, the board as a whole, the superintendent and the administrative team. They are usually formulated at a summer board work session or retreat, or at a series of sessions, where the board and superintendent can focus on the agreement items with an in-depth discussion. The agreements provide more detail on topics of board operations than may be covered in policy, as well as topics that may have caused issues for the board and superintendent over the previous year.
An operating agreement worksheet, like the one found below, can be useful in identifying specific areas that the board members or superintendent feel need to be included in the agreement. Once the topic areas are identified it is important that the board consider what is already in policy on that topic.
OSBA believes in the value of two separate agreements: 1) Board and Superintendent; 2) Board Agreement. The difference is that one focuses on the expectations between the full board and its one employee, the superintendent. The other board agreement focuses on how the members of the board will interact with each other.
An excellent way to begin the process of developing an operating agreement is with an individualized board workshop on roles and responsibilities, focused on the topic areas identified by the board and superintendent. This establishes a sound foundation and common understanding of good practices before beginning the discussion. OSBA can provide the training and facilitation services for the operating agreement process. Contact OSBA for more information about developing an operating agreement for your board.