Thursday, February 19, 2009

Charles is in Charge Here. But...Who's Charles?

A school board is often likened to a board of directors for a company, with the District administrator being the CEO. The company, of course, is the school district. The company's business is to educate our children to properly prepare them for their future--be it to further their education or to transition directly into the workforce from high school. The stakeholders are us...the community who pay local property taxes a significant portion of which funds the company, and the state that provides the rest of the aid.

Typical duties of boards of directors include:
  • Governing the organization by establishing broad policies and objectives
  • Hiring, supporting, and reviewing the performance of the CEO
  • Ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources
  • Approving annual budgets
  • Accounting to the stakeholders for the organization's fiscal and business performance

The relationship between the CEO and a board seems to be pretty clear cut. So...why, with respect to the Sun Prairie Area School District, does it seem like the tail is wagging this dog?

Why does District Administrator Tim Culver have a seat at "the big table"? Why doesn't he sit to the side (like his staff) to clearly demonstrate the line between employer and employee? Let the board govern as a board. By sitting at the right hand of the president (and frequently whispering to him) it's pretty clear how much influence Culver has.

Why does it frequently appear that in a somewhat passive aggressive manner, Culver tells the board what it is that they should (or should not) do? This is especially seen at board "working sessions", where Culver frequently offers input to the board on how to do their jobs...including how to evaluate HIS performance!

Why do some board members, particular the president, have what is frequently viewed as an overly chummy relationship with the district administrator? Most definitely, a strong working relationship is required, but the lines between employer and employee must not be blurred.

Why is it that managers beneath Culver continually "take one for the team"? If Culver is ultimately responsible, why it it that the fan never seems to blow the feces up to his level?

Why would the board extend Culver's contract for an additional year when there is still a year left? It's not like he's the Tom Brady of district administrators. And sometimes, when a school district this one does...the need for a change in CEO should be seriously considered.

We're just askin'.