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Summary of the Carver Policy Governance Model

Prepared by Ginny Jaramillo, January 2000 (Red - Don's annotations)

The Job of the Board

The board of an organization is responsible for knowing who the “owners” of the organization are, and who the “customers” (or clients) are. The board’s duty, then, is to concentrate on the goals and visions (or desired “ends”) of the owners, ensuring that the organization is responsible for achieving those ends. Once the board’s policies are in place, the board does not focus on customer issues, because that is the job of the staff. In cases such as schools, where owners and customers may overlap or be the same, the board deals with people who come to them in the role of an owner. People who come to the board in the role of a customer are referred to the head administrator, who represents the staff. This means that the staff deals with the daily operation of the school, and the board deals with four major areas of its job description:

  1. Link with the owners to determine the ends of the organization.

  2. Create policies which give direction to the head administrator as to what the ends of the organization are, and within which limitations he or she can operate (executive limitations).

  3. Monitor the progress of the organization and the head administrator in meeting the organizational ends and staying within the executive limitations.

  4. Monitor itself as a board.

Board Policies

There are four different categories of board policies, and all board policies must fall into one of these categories:

  1. ENDS (The intended results for the customers/clients) (the Vision and Goals in the CharterEnds policies all deal with ends, while all other categories of board policies deal with means.

  2. EXECUTIVE LIMITATIONS (The limitations put on the head administrator) Executive limitations policies all deal with means, but they are written IN THE NEGATIVE, telling what means the head administrator SHALL NOT USE, instead of what means the head administrator SHALL USE to accomplish the organizational goals (this avoids the two extremes of “micro-managing” and “rubber-stamping.”) (the Operations Policy)

  3. BOARD-STAFF RELATIONSHIPS (How the board will interact with the head administrator) Board-staff relationship policies all deal with means that the board will use to interact with the staff THROUGH THE HEAD ADMINISTRATOR. (the Operations Policy)

  4. GOVERNANCE PROCESS (How the board will govern itself). Governance Process policies all deal with means that the board will use to govern and monitor itself throughout the year. (the Governance Policy)

Key Features of the Model

  1. The board generates ends policies that come from linkage with the community. (... and meets government requirements - e.g. the Charter)

  2. The board directs the administrator as to what the goals of the school are, but it is up to the administrator to determine how to get there, AS LONG AS EXECUTIVE LIMITATIONS ARE MET.

  3. The board does not deal with customer issues or staff issues. Its primary work is linkage with the community.

  4. The board, not the administrator, creates the long-term goals of the school.

  5. The board determines how much control it should exert over the administrator by determining the scope of executive limitations policies.

  6. Board policy requires the entire board to work as one, without “splintering” into different factions.

  7. Board meeting agendas are set for an entire calendar year, and address ONLY POLICY ISSUES. Board meetings are, therefore, typically brief and efficient. (NB)

  8. Because school boards are required by law to approve many staff-related items (such as operational budgets, purchases, staff hirings and firings, etc.) the administrator submits such staff-related information for automatic board approval in a “consent agenda” which is not opened up for discussion. This preserves the integrity of the executive limitations policies, and eliminates the wasted time of “micro-management." (NB)

Some Advantages of this Model over the “Conventional” Approach

  1. It is a well-researched model of democracy in action, with clear guidelines, not a guessing game.

  2. Policies are readable, streamlined, and addressed regularly, not put on a shelf in a big book.

  3. The roles of the board and the staff are clearly defined and easily understood, and do not overlap.

  4. The board is freed from staff and customer issues, to allow time to concentrate on community linkage.

  5. It discourages people who have “private agendas” from serving on the board, and encourages people to be on the board if they have a true desire to serve the entire community.

  6. It reduces the typical stress caused by splintered boards, “micro-managing,” or “rubber stamping.

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