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The Role of the Board in an Independent School

The Board of an Independent School

The role of the Board in an independent school is to:

  • Adopt the school’s mission, vision and strategic goals and then establish policies and plans to reinforce them

  • Steward the school’s resources and be accountable for its financial stability by overseeing budgets, ensuring the preservation of capital assets and endowment and actively helping to raise money for the school.

  • Establish and maintain bylaws that conform to legal requirements- especially their fiduciary duty of loyalty, obedience and care, while upholding high standards of ethics and avoidance of conflicts of interest

  • Select, hire, evaluate and establish the compensation of the head of school 

  • Maintain accurate records of meetings and policies and ensure that all directors are engaged in board work and be open and transparent about final decisions while keeping deliberations confidential

At La Scuola, the board of directors meets 10 times per calendar year and has standing committees that include:  Governance, Facilities, Finance, Head Support and HR, Marketing, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Strategic Planning and Advancement. 

Directors attend NAIS and CAIS professional development sessions to continue their growth as directors and to be able to stay current with independent school trends and best support the head of school and the school in its decision-making.   They also undergo an annual self-evaluation process from which process improvements are made. The Board does not intervene in the day to day operations of the school, which are solely under the leadership of the Head of School and their administrators.

Typically, nominations to the board are selected from persons who have served on school committees first as a means of learning the inner workings of the organization and assessing whether they are able to commit fully to the time and talent that are required to serve as a director.  Potential directors are sought out using criteria that is defined by the board, such as a particular skill set that is needed (legal, finance, marketing, human resources, education, to name a few). They are nominated by current directors or committee heads and are vetted by the Governance committee.   Terms start/end in July of each year and are each three years.  

The Board of La Scuola and the Administration hold an annual Town Hall meeting in the Fall at which time they report on the prior year’s milestones and share the working agenda for the current academic year.  The entire community is encouraged to attend this meeting. The Board and HOS will write to the community regarding major items and annually when tuition is set for the subsequent academic year. Board meeting minutes are generated after each session and are available for viewing upon request at board@lascuolasf.org.  They are kept in printed form in the HOS office. 

NAIS Principles of Good Practice for Independent School Boards