Q: The votes are in and this election season is drawing to a close, which means we have some new board members. What kind of training is required to get them ready for their new role?
A: New board members must complete several hours of training on topics such as local district practices, the Texas Education Code, and the Texas Open Meetings Act. Your Board and Superintendent must also complete a team-building session designed to review the roles, rights and responsibilities of the Board.
Local District Orientation – All new board members must complete a local district orientation within 60 days of election or appointment. The session must be conducted by a provider registered with TEA and must be at least 3 hours. The training must cover local district practices, such as curriculum and instruction, business and finance operations, district operations, superintendent evaluations and the roles and responsibilities of board members. This session is mandatory for new members, but all board members may attend.
Orientation to the Texas Education Code – New board members must also complete an orientation to the Texas Education Code within 120 days of election. This training must also be 3 hours and must be conducted exclusively by your Education Service Center. The training reviews the basics of the Education Code, including governance, finance, operations, personnel and student issues.
Open Meetings Act/TPIA – New board members must complete 1-2 hours of training on the Texas Open Meetings Act. This training must be conducted within 90 days of election. New board members may also have to complete training on the Texas Public Information Act, unless this training is delegated to your Superintendent or other administrator under Board Policy BBD (LOCAL). Both trainings are offered on-line by the Texas Attorney General’s office at no cost.
Team-Building Session – Every year, the entire board must participate in a team-building session with its superintendent. The session must review the roles, rights and responsibilities of a local school board as outlined in the framework for governance, including Vision, Structure, Accountability, Advocacy, and Unity. This training can be conducted by any registered TEA provider. It is required annually, so if your board has already completed the session, it does not have to repeat the board training with the new members until next year.
The Board must keep track of the hours each board member spends completing the required trainings. Certifications of completion should be issued by each provider following the trainings to make tracking easy. Board Policy BBD (LEGAL) requires that the Board President announce at the last regular meeting of the board in a calendar year the name of each board member who has completed the required training, who has exceeded the annual requirements and who is deficient. The announcement must state that completion of the training requirements is an obligation and expectation of every board member. The Board President should also ensure that the meeting minutes reflect this information. Look to Board Policy BBD (LEGAL) and BBF (LEGAL) for board member ethics pertaining to training compliance.