Board Operating Principles 1800


As citizens, elected or appointed executive leaders of Rochester School District, it is important for the School Board and Superintendent to work together as a team. Though the roles of each are necessarily different, the primary mission of developing the full potential of all learners must be the overall purpose.

The Operating Principles will act as a guide for the Board and Superintendent to conduct Rochester School District business. The Board will establish policies and focus on outcomes and results and hold the Superintendent accountable for outcomes and results specified in Board policies.

The Superintendent will be responsible for operations and management of the entire system, and accountable for all outcomes and results specified in Board policies. The way the Board and Superintendent interact will become a model throughout the District for students, teachers, parents and staff on leadership and problem-solving.

Operating principles define roles, responsibilities, and methods of working together, to assure quality operations. Operating Principles, thoughts, ideas, and concepts applies to internal Board work, relations, and to Board work and relationship with the Superintendent.

The Board and Superintendent agree to abide by the principles listed below. 

  • We will expect each other to be committed to the work of leading the Rochester School District.
  • We will set measurable goals and execute those goals.
  • We will maintain confidentiality.
  • We will maintain regular attendance at meetings. If unable to attend, we will notify the Board President or Superintendent.
  • Be direct with each other, speaking with honesty and with consideration.
  • We will work as a team.
  • We will lead by example.
  • We will commit to ongoing improvement of ourselves, through self-assessments of the Board and as Board/Superintendent team.
  • We will include student voice and engage with our students as part of our decision-making process.
Judgment and Trust
  • We will trust that the intentions of others are positive.
  • We will communicate with each other first, good news and bad news.
  • We will portray each other in the most positive light.
  • We will recognize that each of us may approach problems and challenges in a different manner. This does not make another's approach wrong; just different.
  • The common ground of our decision-making will be "What's best for kids".
  • The Board will make decisions on policy, budget, direction, etc.
  • We will approach Board discussions with an open mind; seeking to understand each other’s ideas, perspectives, values and beliefs.
  • We will disagree without being disagreeable.
  • We will attack problems and issues NOT people or personalities.
  • Once a decision is made by the Board on any issue we will support that decision, in word and action, though we may not agree with the decision.
  • We will include student voice in our decision-making
  • The Superintendent will make decisions on implementation of policy, operations of the School District, management and direction of staff, etc.

The Board and Superintendent

Recognize that open communication requires trust, respect and a fundamental belief in goodwill among Board Members and Staff.

  • The key principle is “no surprises”.
  • Support each other constructively, courteously, and acknowledge and respect each other’s viewpoints and differences.
  • Uphold the integrity of every individual and know that it’s OK to say, “I don’t know. I will find out and get back to you quickly.”
  • Keep confidential information confidential.
  • Focus discussion on issues, not personalities.
  • Involve those parties who will be affected by the decision whenever possible and appropriate.
  • Enter problems with an open mind for all individuals involved.
  • No surprises. The Superintendent and School Board will, whenever appropriate and possible, promptly notify one another of events, rumors and issues that are likely to be issues of potential concern or interest to the board within the District and or community.
  • The Superintendent and School Board recognize that the line between policy and management is not always clear. It is appropriate for the board and superintendent to negotiate that line on an ongoing, case-by-case basis. A pushback from both parties is expected and should be viewed as a healthy part of the working relationship.
  • We are accountable to each other.
  • Acknowledge and respect each other’s viewpoints and differences.  Come prepared to use meeting time productively.
  • Is committed to regularly checking our performance and effectiveness through a formal self-assessment (Annually or bi-annually)
  • The Board will communicate Board interests and expectations to the Board President and/or Superintendent clearly and on a regular basis.
  • The Board will limit surprises to the Superintendent, such as last-minute requests for detailed information or additions to the agenda for which she/he may not be prepared.
  • The Board will be mindful of impact of work load on the Superintendent and his/her staff such as capacity/opportunity/ cost.
  • Board direction to the Superintendent will come by way of an approved motion, consensus, or through the Board President. 
  • Concerns of the Board and/or the individual Directors will be addressed with the Superintendent openly in executive session.
  • Board members will be direct with each other, speaking with honesty and consideration. Seeking to help one another and the whole team to improve their effectiveness and performance.
  • The Superintendent will limit surprises to the Board, such as last-minute decisions and additions to the agendas.
  • The Superintendent will seek to make communication clear, complete, concise and timely.
  • The Superintendent will meet or speak with Board President prior to each board meeting. The purpose of these meetings or conversations will be to discuss operations of the District and establish agenda for the Board meetings.
  • The Superintendent will provide a written briefing at the Board meetings.
  • The Superintendent will follow-through on Board questions and requests in a timely manner.
  • The Superintendent will, when appropriate, provide full-disclosure to the Board of Directors on sensitive issues before they come to them for a decision.
  • The Superintendent will share personnel or property concerns with the Board and/or individual Directors openly in executive session.
Responding to Patron/Parent Complaints

When receiving requests or complaints from members of the public, School Board Members should:

  • Hear the problem for a full understanding of the persons involved, date and place;
  • Repeat the problem back to the patron/parent member;
  • Refer the community member to the appropriate staff member or Superintendent.  Whenever practical they should first attempt direct, personal resolution of the issue with the employee involved.  Should that be unsuccessful, the complaint should be referred to the next higher level as outlined in Policy & Procedure Patron/Parent Grievances 4312; and
  • If applicable, explain that because of the steps in our grievance procedure, School Board Members must remain impartial in case the situation is brought before the Board in the appeal process.

Rochester School District
Adoption Date: February 23, 2022

Classification: Discretionary