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Governance Consulting Services

​Good governance is based on: making a commitment to good governance, a shared moral imperative, a governance mindset, unity of purpose and leadership from the middle (system responsibility).

The experienced WASB consultants can assist with improving your board’s effective governance performance through a variety of governance workshops and services customized to your individual board’s needs. There is a fee for services provided by WASB consultants.

Contact Ben Niehaus, WASB Director of Member Services: or 608-512-1706 for a consultation, a free service to all members.

Understand the Board’s Role and Improve Board Operations

Understand the board’s governing role: Every high-achieving school board is focused on functioning in ways that improve student achievement. Research shows that the more effective the board, the better a school district’s students perform. In every decision and every action, the school board governance role centers on improving student learning outcomes.

Understand the board’s financial roles and responsibilities: Training on financial roles and responsibilities includes an overview of key areas of school district budgeting for school board members, including relevant statutes, the budgeting process, effective and efficient resource utilization, and community participation in budgeting.

Onboard new members: Learn best practices for new board member orientation strategies, including pre-election, post-election and ongoing opportunities for new board members to help make their transition onto the school board seamless and meaningful.

Improve board operations: Effective and efficient school board meetings are productive, conducive to good decision making, and are focused on the board’s goals and priorities. The WASB school board meeting self-evaluation tool allows board members to evaluate their meetings as often as they would like. The tool can be used on its own or in conjunction with the Annual Board Development Tool. If needed, WASB consultants are available to facilitate discussions and improvements in operating effectively and efficiently as a board.

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Understand the board’s legal roles and responsibilities: The WASB introductory legal training provides an overview of key areas of Wisconsin law, including open meetings, public records, conflicts of interest, liability and risk management, and a board’s power and duties.

With the WASB’s cadre of experienced school attorneys and  governance consultants, we’re able to provide a wide range of training and can blend legal and governance topics into a single, customized workshop or a series of workshops. For an in-depth understanding of a board’s roles and responsibilities, a WASB attorney and governance consultant can co-present a workshop.

Understand school funding: Understanding Wisconsin’s complex system of school finance is truly a challenge. The WASB can help board members develop a basic understanding of state general equalization and categorical aids, the financing of various student learning options, the revenue limit, and the school levy tax credits.

Board members may also find the Investing in Wisconsin Public Schools a useful, hands-on tool to provide an understanding of the variables, stakeholders and nuances of financing Wisconsin’s public schools.

Visit the Basic Legal and Governance Resources for School Board Members page for an introductory compilation of resources.

Develop a Vision and Strategic Plan

Create a mission and vision, and use it to direct your priorities and goals: Effective school boards have a moral imperative to commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that mission and vision. The WASB can assist in moving a vision from paper into practice.

Align your budget with your priorities: Effective boards align and sustain resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals. The WASB can help your board ensure its vision is implemented and supported through the district budget process.

Develop a strategic plan: To ensure that the board’s vision becomes reality, the board should develop a strategic plan and establish policies for implementation. The WASB uses Stakeholder-Driven Strategic Planning, based on the research of Robert W. Ewy and the Baldridge Foundation. This planning process involves key community and school district participants and is designed to gather input from individual community stakeholders.

Since the process is tailored to the planning needs of the school district and balanced with current resource availability (staff, budget, and local resources), it is designed to take place in a reasonable time period. The cost is calculated on a time-needed basis and is dependent on the scope and goals of the school district for their Stakeholder-Driven Strategic Planning effort. As a result of the planning process, a number of documents or deliverables will be produced to help guide the school district. These documents will be used by the Strategic Planning Committee to analyze the school district performance and to aid in the development of the strategic plan.

Develop Your District’s Vision For the Future (Wisconsin School News, August 2016)

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Develop visionary board policies: Policymaking is one of the school board’s most important functions. Through policy, the board sets the educational goals for the district and provides directives for administrators and other staff to follow while working toward achieving the goals. Policymaking is a continuous process whereby existing policies are reviewed regularly to see if they are effective and up to date and new policies are developed as they are needed.

The WASB’s experienced policy services team can provide members with a range of policy consulting services tailored to meet your district’s particular needs, interests or requirements.


Develop Strong Communication and Leadership Skills

Deal with conflict, build trust and model professional, respectful behavior for the district: Conflict occurs naturally and can present an opportunity for growth, understanding, and change.  When ignored or mismanaged, conflict can be a destructive force that wastes time, energy and money while damaging the kind of working relationships necessary for getting things done.  The WASB can help board members become more comfortable with conflict, manage conflict constructively and work together with fellow board members, administrators, teachers, parents, students and the public for win-win resolutions.

Communicate effectively with internal and/or external stakeholders: Effective boards recognize public schooling’s impact on the community, and understand how strong connections mean everyone is invested in successful schools. The WASB consultants can conduct a communications review for the district and advise on ways to strengthen communication efforts.

Elevate achievement for all: The needs of our children call for a more intentional focus on excellence and equity. Learn more about educational excellence and equity, areas to focus on to do this work well, and how to frame this issue for community understanding.

Develop an Effective Leadership Team

Foster a positive, productive working relationship: Developing a productive partnership requires the board and superintendent to draw on, and respect, the backgrounds and abilities of everyone involved. The WASB can work with the board/superintendent leadership team to foster a positive, productive working relationship.

Build a relationship with a new superintendent: The WASB transition services can assist the district with developing press releases and making introductions to the staff and community to help establish strong relationships from the start. The consultants offer transition services that will help the right hire and the board quickly begin their journey together. Additionally, we offer assistance in clarifying expectations and enhancing communication between you and your new superintendent from day one.

Develop an effective district administrator evaluation system: An environment of continuous improvement requires a developmental approach to evaluation. The Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness Model does not include evaluation of the district administrator/superintendent, however, school districts need to set the tone for executive leadership evaluation. The WASB Consultants can assist your school district in implementing a Superintendent Evaluation Framework that complies with Wisconsin Statutes, incorporates your job description, and builds on the concepts of continuous improvement.

Develop an effective board self-assessment/evaluation system: An environment of continuous improvement must also include an effective system for the board to evaluate its work. Using the Annual Board Development Tool online survey developed by the WASB and School Perceptions, the WASB Consultants can work with a district to identify their areas of strength and alignment as well as where further dialogue and discussion is needed.

School boards may also be interested in using the WASB School Board Meeting Self-Evaluation tool to assess an individual meeting or series of meetings. 

Receive Assistance with Administrative Tasks

Study the potential for reorganization or consolidation: Districts potentially facing the need to reorganize or consolidate can benefit from an external, objective review and assessment to determine the viability of reorganization or consolidation and its implication for the district.

Meet an emergency or short-term administration need: The WASB can provide emergency or interim administrative services for specific projects, a leave of absence by a current administrator, or for other reasons as needed by a school district.

Want to be the most efficient with your board’s time and resources? Pair a subscription to the WASB Online Learning Platform with governance trainings.

Board members can access content from dozens of on-demand webinars individually or at a board meeting to develop a shared level of understanding, and then meet with a WASB governance consultant to have a more in-depth conversation.

Contact the WASB for more information. 

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