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School board meetings are an integral part of the effective functioning of every educational institution. They are held constantly and may involve different participants. The board meeting of the Galena Park Middle School was not a regular meeting of the school board, but it involved the participation of the Board of Trustees while the matter to be discussed in the meeting was crucial and required their participation.
Looking at the Board Agenda (attached)
The school board meeting of the Galena Park Middle School in Texas was special. It included the presence of the seven participants (Ms. Wanda Heath Johnson, Mr. Joe Stephens, Mr. Ramon Garza, Mr. Jeff Miller, Mr. Wilfred J. Broussard, Jr., Mr. Dawn Fisher, and Ms. Minnie Rivera) that represented the Board of Trustees (Galena park independent school district, n.d.). They perform as members of the board for three years and are chosen to represent the district.
The major sections of the agenda included the approval of the personnel items, the discussion of the business (the acceptance of the budget for the year 2016-2017 and the adoption of the compensation plan for the same timeframe), the approval of the student code of conduct and the student-parent handbook for the school year, the Board comments, and calendar reminders.
The members of the meeting voted unanimously for the acceptance of the policy and all the data privacy issues referred to by the policy. There was no time for an executive session while there was no business to come during this meeting.
The Physical Arrangement and Logistics
The meeting was held at 5:30 p.m., August 23, 2016, at Galena Park Administration Building (14705 Woodforest, Houston, Texas, 77015) (Galena Park ISD board of trustees, 2016). The number of the attendants was close to thirty while not everyone was able to participate in it. The main meeting room was spacious enough, and it could accommodate up to fifty participants comfortably, as well as all the board members and administrative staff. In addition, the perimeter of the room left enough space for the participants to move freely. The meeting room was equipped with stationary audio and video tools so that the performers did not have to use the loud voice.
The lighting was adapted so that all the participants felt comfortable in the room and could take notes if necessary (Ornstein, Levine, Gutek, & Vocke, 2013). Overall, the premises were favorable, and they created a business atmosphere. The physical environment was created in a way not to distract the members of the board as well as the participants from the meeting. The room was well insulated from outside noises, and there were no decorative elements that could distract the participants from the business environment, which was conducive to the participation and attention of all the people.
The Board of Trustees was seated facing the participants, which allowed good visual contact. The administrative staff was seated at the sides of the board. In this approach, the participants of the meeting were facing the speakers, and it was possible to use visual stimuli that could be observed by both the speakers and the participants. This type of environment also facilitated maintaining contact with the participants. Also, the nameplates were used for the Board members and the speakers.
It was the secretary’s responsibility to prepare the minutes of the meeting. The secretary was accountable for the correctness of entries in the minutes as well. It was decided that it would be anecdotal minutes. Thus, they were brief and contained only the names of the speakers and a brief record of the speech topic. The decision as to what form of minutes to conduct at the meeting was made in advance. The minutes were compiled according to the requirements of the organization with the name of the educational organization. The document also stated the name of the document type, date and the number of the minutes, the header for the text, and captions. The chairperson and the secretary signed the minutes of the meeting.
The Interactions Between Board Members and Administrative Staff
The role of the president was to manage the meeting. The superintendent was responsible for presenting the daily issues of the district while the representatives of the Board were to establish the policy matter (Kowalski, 2011). It is crucial to note that the agenda of the meeting has been set in advance, and the chairperson of the meeting saw to it that the meeting proceeded by the agenda. Also, all the participants of the meeting regardless of their position showed respect for the rules and abided by the agenda.
To make the interaction more effective, the issues to be discussed were formulated at the beginning of the meeting; it was mentioned, which topics will be discussed, and all the board members agreed with them. The purpose of it was to describe the issues and formulate the intended result. At one point in the meeting, the discussion between the board members and the administrative staff was no longer active; this part of the discussion was encouraged through questions.
In addition, the meeting was divided into subtopics that were discussed in their turn for the participants to have a clear idea of the progress. Moreover, it is important to mention that periodically the secretary would compile the achieved progress for the Board members, clearly formulated the problem to be addressed further, and repeated the decisions on individual issues to obtain the consent of the members of the Board and to eliminate the disagreement in the future. Importantly, the participants avoided expressing their position as a vote was taken to take account of everyone’s opinion. There were no evident voting blocs because the decision was made unanimously.
At the end of the meeting, the results were summed up, the outcomes achieved were expressed, and the progress was recorded. To conclude the meeting, the President of the Board thanked the members for their participation and their cooperation in the joint solution of problems and expressed the final ideas for the coming school year positively.
It should be noted that the meeting was organized following the Texas Open Meetings Act (Paxton, 2016). According to this law, a notice of the meeting was given to the corresponding bodies with the information about the upcoming meeting and the main topics on the agenda. The meeting was held in compliance with the Act and facilitated the rights of the public to take part in the meeting.
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School Board meetings are a powerful tool of cohesion and a great method for discussing and making decisions. It should be noted that the meeting was efficient and orderly. It can be characterized by principles such as clarity, cohesion in decision-making, compliance with the goals, concreteness, efficient timing, adequacy of all the participants, and reaching the needed outcomes (Del Guidice & Luna, 2012). The issues raised at the meeting were relevant; the effective solutions and the form of the information corresponded to the objectives, audience, and content of the meeting. Thus, the meeting can be evaluated positively.
Del Guidice, M., & Luna, R. (2012). Make a big impact at your school board meeting. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Galena park independent school district. (n.d.). Web.
Galena Park ISD board of trustees. (2016). Web.
Kowalski, T. (2011). The American school superintendent. Lanham, MD: R&L Education.
Ornstein, A., Levine, D., Gutek, G., & Vocke, D. (2013). Foundations of education. Boston, MA: Cengage.
Paxton, K. (2016). Open meetings. Web.
- Call to Order – 5:30 p.m.
- Welcome Announcement to the Audience
- Public Hearing – 5:45 p.m.
- The hearing about the proposed tax rate for the upcoming school year. The hearing was closed as there were no comments.
- Personnel – 6:10 p.m.
- The members of the board affirmed the new staff members of the school.
- Business – 6:25 p.m.
- Adoption of the 2016-2017 Budget
- Adoption of the 2016-2017 Compensation Plan
- 2016-2017 Tax Rate
- 2016-2017 Student Code of Conduct
- 2016-2017 Student/Parent Handbook
- Action Item 7:00 p.m.
- Calendar Reminders 7: 30 p.m.
- The participants received notes about the information on the proposed board special meetings, district community meetings, and regular board meetings.