The Calgary Catholic School Board of Trustees follows the Policy Governance Model. As the name suggests, this model of governance focuses on the use of board policies as the instruments for creating the vision, establishing the purposes, setting parameters for administration, and evaluating district outcomes.
The Policy Governance Model has major implications for the way that the Board of Trustees relates to the district’s administration and to the district’s ratepayers and stakeholders. Through its election by Catholic school ratepayers, the Board of Trustees has been granted the legal and moral responsibility and authority to govern the Calgary Catholic School District. This is the value that the Board – viewed as a cost-centre- adds to the district’s output.
As suggested by Policy Governance, the role of the School Board is to act on behalf of the ratepayers to ensure that the School District achieves what it should, while avoiding what is unacceptable.
Role of the school board
Key principles of the Policy Governance Model:
- The Board speaks with “one voice.” Only the Board as a whole legitimately wields its authority, which is granted by the School Act. Hence, the Chief Superintendent is bound by what the Board corporate says, but never by what any individual trustee says. This principle of “one voice” is important to the Board’s ability to delegate its authority to manage the district to the Chief Superintendent.
- The Chief Superintendent is considered to be the Board’s one employee. He or she is the one person who is held responsible by the Board for ensuring that the district achieves what it should, and avoids that which is unacceptable. All other employees are hired by, work for, and are responsible to the Chief Superintendent.
These two principles have important implications for Board governance and district management. Taken together, they suggest a third principle: the clear delineation of governance and administration. Because the Board has its own job to do, the Board and its task forces are expected to deal with governance or policy issues, not administrative matters. This means that when it wishes to give direction to district administration, the Board corporate addresses the Chief Superintendent. The voice of the Board is expressed most clearly and comprehensively through its policies, as found in the Board Policy Manual. The Chief Superintendent expands on these policies through the district Administrative Regulations, which gives more specific direction to District employees.
Acting on Behalf of the Ownership
The Policy Governance Model has important implications not only for the Board’s relationship with the Chief Superintendent, district administration and staff, but also for ratepayers, parents, and other stakeholders.
The Board of Trustees is not the ownership of the Calgary Catholic School District, but as an elected body, the Board legally represents the moral owners, who are the ratepayers. The Board speaks and acts on their behalf, a task that requires both knowing who the owners are and what their desires are, and distinguishing “owners” from “customers” (students) and other stakeholder groups.
Boards of Trustees have a major challenge in trying to link with their owners. Over the last three years, our Board of Trustees has embarked on new efforts to forge these links with its ownership. Among the most interested ratepayers, of course, are the parents who serve on School Councils. The Board of Trustees has increased significantly its contact with School Council chairpersons by meeting with them in their Parent and Trustee Forums.