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The Duty of Obedience


The duty of obedience requires trustees to be true to the school’s mission. Board members can exercise their own reasoned judgment in how the school can best achieve its mission. But they cannot act in a manner that is inconsistent with that mission. This duty is based on the principle that the school’s constituents and the public at large must be able to act in confidence that what they are told about the school is true. If there is a discrepancy between the trustees’ understanding of the school’s mission and goals and that of the head, the results can be disastrous for all involved with the school. If the disconnection exists between the trustees and the school’s constituents and the public at large, the result is the loss of institutional integrity — another form of disaster. This duty also requires that the board and school observe local, state, and national laws and regulations that apply to independent schools.

(Excerpted from the Trustee Handbook, 9th Edition)

Below are links to articles that provide more information on this topic:

Board of Trustees
August 14, 2012
The board is the guardian of the school's mission. It is the board's responsibility to ensure that the mission is relevant and vital to the community it serves and to monitor the success of the school in fulfilling its mission. The following Principles of Good Practice are set forth to provide a common perspective on the responsibilities of independent school boards. The board and the head work in partnership in fulfilling these principles.
A Trustee's Guide to the Annual Operating Budget Process
July 26, 2012
Every year schools tackle the task of setting the next year's budget. For many trustees, this is a somewhat mysterious process. What is really necessary in the school budget? Where do the trustees come in? Where does the bulk of the money go, and where does it come from? Read this helpful piece from experienced business officer Jim Pugh to learn more.
Financially Sustainable Schools: Six Steps to Re-engineering Your School’s Financial Future
July 25, 2012
Find markers of success as this presentation by the president of NAIS covers trends, benchmark ratios, and "financial data proxies" for school success, and presents the NAIS "Six Step Model" for achieving financial equilibrium derived from the NAIS workbook, Financing Sustainable Schools.
Financial Sustainability: The New Normal: A Game-Changing Model
July 25, 2012
The president of NAIS engages the audience in conversations about changing assumptions about affordability and demand, based on new economic and demographic conditions facing many independent schools in many markets. Have we reached “the price break point” where higher and higher tuitions are suppressing interest and demand for independent schools (and making lower cost alternatives look better)? What assumptions should we make as we start the process of setting tuition for the coming year? What are the non-negotiables that must be funded as opposed to the “nice to have” but not “need to have” items? Strategies for filling all the seats in the school? Options for creating a financially sustainable school? Case studies will illustrate the various considerations offered in the workshop.
December 19, 2011
The president of NAIS presents an overview (using role plays and case studie) of the basic concepts of independent school governance, including the roles and boundaries of the four major players: the board, head of school, faculty, and parent body.
Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Example Policies
June 28, 2012
Are you trying to update your conflict of interest policy? What about your confidentiality policy? These example documents from Ravenscroft School will give you a few things to think about.
Example Code of Ethics
November 1, 2011
Are you looking for more information on creating a code of ethics for your school? This example provided by Ravenscroft School should help get you started.
Example Whistleblower Policy
November 1, 2011
Trying to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, but not sure how to do it? This example of a whistleblower's policy from Ravenscroft School may help get you started on lowering your retaliation liability.
Financing Sustainable Schools
December 20, 2009
As an industry, independent school education has so far lacked the data analysis necessary to find answers to questions that help leaders create financially sustainable schools. Help is here. By using this new workbook, Financing Sustainable Schools, independent schools can now begin to address — individually and collectively — strategic financial issues. Use this workbook to begin your school’s individual path to financial sustainability. Its exercises will help you formulate the questions you need to ask and shape the answers in a way that combines economic sense with your organization’s mission. Buy a copy for each member of your financing committee.
Board Job Description: Statement of Trustees' Responsibilities (Sample)
December 19, 2009
This monograph presents a sample board "job description," to be given to prospective board members as part of their orientation to the work of the board, setting down on paper the mutual expectations in advance of the appointment to the board.

Article Date: 4/20/2008
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