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Mark Twain Union ESD |  E  9005  Board Bylaws

Governance Standards   

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Mark Twain Union Elementary School District

"Fostering a secure and engaging learning environment"


Board of Trustees

Diane Bateman

Jennifer Eltringham

Kendall Morlan

Timothy Randall

Maggie Rollings


Julia Tidball

The Mark Twain Union Elementary School District Governance Handbook was developed during an effective governance workshop conducted in January 2010 with the assistance of Babs Kavanaugh Governance Consultant. This handbook was reviewed and updated in January 2015. Board Adopted 2.12.2015

Elements of Effective Governance

School district governance is the act of transforming the needs, wishes and desires of the community into policies that direct the community's schools.

There are four dimensions to the effective governance of a school district. Effective governance tenets encompass the basic characteristics and behaviors that enable governance team members to effectively create a climate for excellence in a school district and maintain the focus on improved student learning and achievement. The governance responsibilities of Mark Twain Union Elementary School District are organized into these four elements.

They are:

1. Governing as a unified team with a common vision

2. Governing with a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities

3. Creating and sustaining a positive governance culture

4. Developing protocols and procedures to facilitate governance leadership

Unity of Purpose

The foundation of effective governance is the common focus, core values and beliefs that governance team members share about children, the district and public education.

Mark Twain Union Elementary School District Mission Statement

Each child is unique, valuable, and gifted in many ways. Each child can succeed in his/her social, academic, and physical development given proper amounts of encouragement, support, learning experiences and belief in self. Parents and family environment are the primary educators. Young people and the school community are an integral part of the community at large...


As learning facilitators we will foster a secure, exciting learning environment that will enable each student to achieve his/her greatest potential, which includes academic, physical, emotional and social development.

Core Values and Beliefs

Value Statements:

1. Student success is in the forefront of all decisions.

2. Every child in our community deserves a quality education.

3. All staff members will work to ensure that the success of all students is maintained as our highest priority.

4. Every student can learn. We support all students to reach their full potential.

5. An effective teacher is passionate about learning and teaching to inspire critical thinking and self-direction.

6. A positive self- esteem, which is essential to individual and community well-being, is fundamental to a child's success.

7. A successful learning environment based in respect and integrity results in student resiliency.

8. As a learning community we emphasize professional training and development of all staff.

9. Continuous fiscal solvency is critical to the success of the district.

10. We effectively manage resources in order to achieve the district's mission.

11. We value open dialogue, listen to our stakeholders and encourage their input into our decision-making.

12. We support students, parents and staff to proficiently use technology to maximize innovative instruction and communication for all.

Mark Twain Union Elementary School District Goals

1. The District will maintain a fully credentialed and appropriately assigned teaching staff in order to provide the highest quality instruction to students.

2. All students will participate in a broad course of study that includes all subject areas. Student achievement will demonstrate continued growth as measured by District and teacher assessments.

3. All students will have access to Common Core State Standards aligned instructional materials.

4. The District will fully implement Common Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts for all students.

5. The District will actively solicit all parent input in decision making and will promote parent participation in programs for all students including low socioeconomic students, English Learners and Foster Youth.

6. The District will improve school climate at both school sites.

7. Student engagement in their learning will increase as measured by school attendance rates.

8. All facilities will be maintained and repaired as needed.

Characteristics of Effective Trustees

Effective trustees are mindful, prepared, focused and understand the importance of manner.

Characteristic Description

Mindful Focus on the needs of all students

Rely on and respect areas of expertise

Prepared Demonstrate inquiry and effort - commit the time to be an informed and effective leader

Study the background information and ask questions

Focused Take time to clarify the goals and direction with staff, other trustees and the community

Fully and thoroughly discuss issues and make informed and responsible decisions

Manner Support the decisions of the Board

Recognize there are different points of view and maintain respect

Creating and Sustaining a Positive Governance Culture

To be effective, it is vital that the board and superintendent have a respectful and constructive working relationship based on trust and open communications. During this session, the superintendent and trustees discussed strategies to provide support to one another and continue to strengthen the working relationship.

1. What trustees need from the superintendent to fulfill their responsibilities:

a. Complete and timely information, for decision-making and to share with the community

b. Teamwork toward the District goals and the priority focus of the management team

c. Full discussion of topics with all points of view heard

d. Full understanding of the proper complaint processes

e. Explicit communication on any topics that may need action

f. Full understanding of the proper complaint processes

g. Explicit communication on any topics that may need action

h. Weekly communication, e.g., Friday letters, which keeps the board informed about the school sites and provides an opportunity to acknowledge staff for their accomplishments

i. ‘No surprises' - to hear about urgent issues and brewing issues in the community.

2. What the Superintendent needs to fulfill her responsibilities:

a. Direction from the Board

b. Teamwork, trust and support with the board

c. A shared understand of roles and responsibilities

d. Effective communication tools, e.g. the District web site

e. Explicit communication on any topics that may need action

f. ‘No surprises', full disclosure of the board's pressures from the community

3. What Trustees need from one another to fulfill their responsibilities.

a. Be open minded and supportive of each other. Create an environment where people feel safe to speak their mind.

b. Allow for full discussion. Respectfully listen to each other's views.

c. Be honest with each other

d. It is okay to disagree, and to foster constructive debate

e. "No surprises" about brewing issues

Governance Leadership - Structure and Process

To effectively meet district priorities, goals and challenges, the board and superintendent must function together as a governance leadership team. The following protocols were developed to support and promote the effectiveness of the governance team and to ensure a positive and productive working relationship among board members, the superintendent, district staff, students, and the community. The protocols were developed for and by the members of the governance team, and may be modified over time as needed.

Protocols to Facilitate Governance Leadership

1. Meetings as Strategic Leadership Tools


a. The Board wishes to demonstrate to the community, efficient well-run meetings and thoughtful use of time and resources.

b. The Board wants to demonstrate to the public that they are thoughtful and seek multiple perspectives and input regarding issues.

c. Board members will ensure that time is spent on the business of the district as well as discussing what is strategically important to the success of the students.


a. All members of the governance team agree to share accountability for an effective and efficient board meeting.

b. Annually, during the district goal setting process, the Board will identify topics for study sessions and conversation/discussion meetings and as needed.

2. Interaction with the Public at Board Meetings


a. Board meetings are meetings of the board held in public to conduct the district business.

b. Important to the work of the district are board meetings that are professional, stay on track and ensure timely decisions.

c. Trustees want to ensure that multiple voices of the community are heard, that the process for community input is clearly defined and that community members feel welcomed.


a. The Board President will remind the public of the purpose of the meeting, to conduct the District business in public. The president will outline the guidelines for public input and highlight that these guidelines are listed on the board meeting agenda.

b. The Board President acts as facilitator to focus the dialogue and manage the input.

c. Members of the public will address the board from a podium. Each topic has a 20 minute time limit. Three minutes are allotted per person or one person may represent a group for up to 20 minutes. The Board President has discretion to add time to the discussion, if the majority of the Board agrees to additional time.

d. The Board President may ask that the public limit their comments to new information.

e. Trustees will consistently abide by agreements and protocols in relation to this issue so that all persons are treated fairly and equally.

3. Bringing up New Ideas


Board members value opportunities to share best practices and innovative strategies for moving the district forward.


a. The Board has developed a process for bringing forward and evaluating new ideas while maintaining the focus on district priorities the protocol outlines a series of decision points for determining whether or not to move a new idea forward.

b. The decision points are as follows:

(1) A new idea is placed on the board agenda for consideration. A decision is made on whether to spend time on the issue. If no, abandon the idea. If yes, move to step 2.

(2) Define the idea and make a decision as to whether or not to study the issue. If no, abandon the idea. If yes, move to step 3.

(3) The superintendent will maintain a list of ideas for inclusion in the annual goal setting process. During that process the ideas will be analyzed regarding their possible positive and negative impacts. The Board will then determine whether the ideas will be integrated into the annual goal setting.

4. Board Study Sessions. Conversation/Discussion Meetings


a. Study sessions provide opportunities for additional discussion and review of district and board business, to study issues in depth, and to discuss and understand the short and long term issues and challenges facing the district. The topics are usually those where additional discussion and education is needed to make important decisions.

b. Discussion meetings involve agreeing on guiding principles and developing criteria to be used for problem solving, action planning, and/or decision-making on major district issues in order for the governance team to be pro-active rather than reactive.

c. Study session may provide a forum for Board members to share conference and professional learning opportunities.


a. Agreement on the study session conversation/discussion topics and schedule will be reached during the District goal setting process.

b. During the study sessions and conversation/discussion meetings, the governance team will ensure an orderly structure for input with flexibility to allow for effective deliberation among governance team members.

d. Study sessions and conversation/discussion meetings are public meetings subject to the provisions of the Brown Act and no action is taken.

5. Establishing Multi - Year and Annual District Goals


a. Establishing district goals that promote clarity of direction, focus and alignment of resources is critical to demonstrating a proactive Board.

b. The board is mindful of resources and the impact of decisions on the District and community resources.


a. The process for developing District goals includes the new stante requirements found the the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to guide the implementation and evaluation of educational programs and services for students and families.

b. Integral partners in the development fo the LCAP are parents, students, staff, local businesses, non-profit organizations, neighboring districts and the county office of education.

c. The superintendent will provide periodic updates to the board on progress toward implementing the District LCAP Goals.

6. Responding to Community Concerns


a. The Board wishes to be accessible, consistent, and fair in dealings with complaints and concerns from the community. Critical to responding to issues and complaints is the board support for ensuring a District culture of no retaliation.

b. The Board values open communication and timely resolution of issues.


When approached by an individual or group with concerns and complaints, it is best practice to:

a. Listen openly, being careful not to imply agreement, since only one perspective is being expressed.

b. Clarify that a Board member is one of five and that the authority rests with the majority in all Board decisions and actions.

c. Strive to ensure a community member feels heard and empowered with next steps. Provide education and direction to policies or processes or person in the district (e.g. teacher, principal, superintendent) who can most directly help them with their concern.

d. Board members will use judgment in responding, being mindful of their role in judicial review.

e. Trustees will call the superintendent when they direct a community member to contact the superintendent or an appropriate staff member.

7. Board Governance Self-Assessment


Conducting a governance self-evaluation demonstrates accountability to the community and the intention of the governance team to strengthen and improve governance practices.


a. The Board supports continuous improvement through an evaluation of governance practices and effectiveness.

b. Annually the Board will schedule a conversation/study session meeting to reflect on governance practices and participate in a self-evaluation process. During the evaluation, the governance team will discuss what is working well (commendations) and what can be improved (recommendations). At the conclusion of the annual governance self-assessment, the board will establish one to two governance goals/objectives that are directly linked to the district goals.


Effective Governance 1

School district governance is the act of transforming the needs, wishes and desires of the community into policies that direct the community's schools.

As the governance team fulfills responsibilities in the areas of setting direction, human resources, policies, student learning and achievement, finance, judicial appeals, collective bargaining, and community relations and advocacy, the way in which governance team members perform the governance role is critical.

Whether in the boardroom, out in the community or at home, Board members are always trustees for the district. The integrity of the school district's educational program is dependent upon the responsible and professional manner in which each Board member, and the board collectively, fulfills governance roles and responsibilities with the superintendent. The demeanor of governance team members sends an important message to the public.

Utilizing effective governance techniques, private citizens, once elected to school boards, work with the superintendent to keep all district efforts focused on student learning. Effective governance tenets encompass the basic characteristics and behaviors that enable governance team members to effectively create a climate for excellence in a school district.

The community elects school board members to set and monitor the direction of the school district, and the district superintendent will translate all efforts into action. It is therefore vital that the Board and superintendent have a respectful and productive working relationship based on trust and open communications.

Working as a group, Board members and the superintendent leverage the efforts of the professional staff by setting a direction for the district reflective of the community's wishes for its children, by creating a supportive framework for action in the district, by holding the system accountable through mutually agreed upon mechanisms, by providing support to students and staff through behaviors and actions, and by demonstrating community leadership on behalf of children, district schools and public education. When this is done effectively, the chances of a climate for excellence being created in which students thrive increases dramatically.

Appendix B

Effective Governance Teams 2

Effective teams value and respect their essential roles, reach mutual agreement on the roles of the board and superintendent, and strive to operate within them.

Boards and superintendents work together to ensure a district has effective leadership. There are important distinctions to be made between the board's role and that of the superintendent and staff. The role of the school board is not to run the schools, but to see that the schools are well run.

Understanding Governance Roles 3

Value Driven Governance Team - Strategic Goals and Success Indicators





Skill Driven Superintendent and Staff - Strategic Goals and Success Indicators





version: May 21, 2015 Angels Camp, California