The Regional District 13 Board of Education understands that access to a quality public education is not just a constitutional requirement, but is also a moral imperative to ensure that all individuals have an opportunity to fully develop their talents, moral imagination and essential humanity. Accordingly, all students in the towns of Durham and Middlefield are entitled to a quality educational experience that prepares them to be lifelong learners.
In order to provide the necessary and appropriate leadership for the Regional District 13 Public Schools, the Regional District 13 Board of Education is committed to governing as a professional board of directors. This means a commitment to the principles and practice of professional governance, the sharing of a common understanding of Board policies, practices, procedures and principles, a focus on continuous learning and improvement, and a willingness to serve as a model of effective moral leadership to students, staff and the community. This handbook is an attempt to set down in writing the Board’s procedures and principles for the benefit of current and future members of the Regional District 13 Board of Education.
The mission of Regional School District 13, a community that celebrates learning, honors tradition, and embraces change, is to ensure that all students will be engaged and ethical lifelong learners and citizens who will thrive, excel, and contribute in an ever-changing, interdependent world by providing challenging, diverse, and nurturing experiences that empower each student to succeed through meaningful partnership with family and community.
Each and every student in Regional School District 13 will achieve established, rigorous performance standards in all areas of student learning by becoming independent strategic readers, problem solvers, and critical thinkers.
The Regional School District 13 Board of Education will establish reciprocal communication that is accessible and understandable, and that unites all citizens around the belief that high-quality public education is a community’s most valuable asset.
Facilities and Educational Adequacy
The Regional School District 13 Board of Education will ensure all students have the opportunity to learn and achieve in safe and educationally adequate facilities by meeting the needs of the district with respect to appropriate space and the quality of learning environments.
The Regional District 13 Board of Education will institutionalize a focus on continuous improvement leading to student achievement and student success through its development of policy, ongoing evaluation, and commitment to individual and Board professional growth.
The Board of Education established the following goals for the community relations program:
The Board will:
In addition to its Mission Statement and Board Goals, as well as responsibilities defined by law, the Board subscribes to the Key Work of School Boards. This framework for planning and action, developed by the National School Board Association, is based on the system’s concept that no action or progress is accomplished in isolation. The eight essential areas for Board focus and action are as follows:
Vision – establishing a clear vision of student achievement as a top priority of the Board, staff and community.
Standards – setting clear standards for student performance.
Assessment – establishing regular and valid assessments to measure district and student progress.
Accountability – establishing a process that holds the school system accountable for student success.
Alignment – aligning of all district resources to focus on student performance.
Climate – creating a positive climate throughout the school district to promote student success.
Collaborative Relationships – building collaborative relationships with the community to promote and develop a consensus and understanding of the priority of student achievement.
Continuous Improvement – committing all individuals within the school district to the idea of continuous improvement in the pursuit of student achievement and success.
The Board of Education is ultimately responsible for ensuring that Durham and Middlefield residents have access to a free, quality education through high school. Connecticut law imbues the Board with specific and often broad authority over the administration of Regional District 13 schools. (A lengthier and more specific listing of the Board’s authority can be found in Chapter 10 of the Connecticut General Statutes.)
While the Board has broad authority over the Regional District 13 schools, much of this authority is delegated to the superintendent of schools and other district employees. The Board of Education functions, not as management responsible for the administration of the school district, but as a board of directors responsible for establishing a vision for Regional District 13 schools, and monitoring its progress in reaching that vision.
Individual Board members have no authority except when they are meeting as a Board of Education. The Board of Education is a collective body and, by statute, can only act when a quorum is assembled in a legally constituted meeting. The statements or actions of individual Board members do not bind the Board of Education, except when that statement or action has been authorized by an official act of the Board. Board members should be careful not to act or speak in a manner that suggests they are speaking or acting on behalf of the board of education or the school district when they have not been so authorized by the Board. Board members shall not be asked to perform any routine or clerical duties which may be assigned to an employee.
The Board understands that not all of its work can be accomplished at regularly scheduled meetings of the entire Board and that in order to dedicate the necessary time, expertise and focus on individual issues it is necessary to utilize committees of the Board. The Board’s committee structure was developed so that it is aligned with the Board’s goals to better focus Board activity and action on its stated priorities.
Each standing committee of the Board of Education is appointed annually by the Board chair. Board members are encouraged to participate on different committees throughout their term in order to enhance their understanding of Board responsibilities.
In addition to the standing committees, when a particular issue calls for the expertise of more than one committee – such as the Utilization Study Committee –the Board and the Superintendent can create an ad hoc committee for those tasks that require a committee of the Board and do not fall within the parameters of the standing committees (i.e. disciplinary and residency hearings).
The focus of the Student Achievement Committee is to review and monitor appropriate metrics to evaluate student achievement and to pursue continuous improvement in overall District academic performance. In addition the committee shall ensure that adequate time and resources are allocated for the purpose of staff professional development. The responsibilities of this committee include:
The focus of the Educational Resources Committee is to obtain and oversee the management of the resources that are needed to increase the District's capacity to lead, teach and learn. The responsibilities of this committee include:
The focus of the Policy Committee is to ensure that all Board of Education policies and by- laws are current, relevant and readily available to all members of the Board and Community. The responsibilities of the Policy Committee include:
The focus of the Human Resources Committee is to optimize the effectiveness of human resources employed by the Board of Education. The responsibilities of the Human Resources Committee include:
The Regional District 13 Board of Education is a ten member, non-partisan Board. Board members serve three-year terms. In order for an individual to run for the Board of Education, one must be nominated at the annual town meeting, with the highest vote getter filling the vacant seat(s). Upon being elected, the candidate will be sworn in by the Town Clerk to be certified.
Board members are elected to the Board of Education at the individual annual town meetings in Durham and Middlefield in May. Regularly appointed members’ terms begin July 1st and end June 30th. The member ratio on the Board is based upon the student enrollment from each town. (See Town Charters)
Individuals must be registered voters in Durham or Middlefield in order to serve on the Board of Education. Employees of the Board of Education may not serve on the Board.
Beyond the minimum statutory requirements for Board service, it is expected that Board of Education members will share a commitment to providing an exceptional educational experience for each student, a willingness to work and study to become well-versed in public education and Regional District 13 schools, and a sincere desire to be part of a high-functioning governing body that takes the responsibilities of public service seriously.
Board members who wish to resign from the Board of Education must submit a letter of resignation to the town clerk of the representing town, with a copy to the Board chair. A member’s resignation is not effective until it is filed with the town clerk. The Board of Education does not have the authority to either accept or reject a member’s resignation.
It is the expectation of the Board that Board members who leave the Board either through resignation or election, extend the courtesy of providing the Board with feedback through a conversation with the Board Chair or Superintendent or if preferred a written questionnaire. It is hoped that the honest and thoughtful reflections of departing members will provide valuable information and ideas for Board self-evaluation and improvement efforts.
When a vacancy occurs on the Board of Education, the town which the member represented shall call a special town meeting within 30 days to name a successor to fill the unexpired term.
No member, officer, or employee of the Board of Education shall have an interest in any contract with which the school board member, officer or employee is affiliated unless such interest is specifically permitted by statute.
“Interest” shall mean pecuniary or material benefit accruing to a Board of Education member, officer or employee or their relatives resulting from a contractual relationship with the school system.
No member of the Board of Education may be employed for compensation by the school district. If a Board member is employed by the school district, the office to which he or she was elected shall become vacant.
Although the Board of Education cannot remove individuals from service as Board members, it does have the authority and ability to discipline individual members. Since service as a Board officer is a privilege and not a right, Board officers can be removed from their position as an officer by a majority vote of the membership of the Board.
Board members who violate the rules, regulations or policies of the Board, interfere with the orderly and efficient operation of the Board, or act in ways that are contrary to the best interests of the school district can be subject to a vote of censure by the Board. A censure vote is an expression of disapproval concerning an individual member by the Board and, hopefully, will be used rarely, if at all.
As part of its commitment to having highly-trained individuals as part of a professional governing board, the Board will provide orientation opportunities for new members and candidates. Once a new member is elected, the Board chair or his/her designee and the superintendent of schools will offer candidates an opportunity to learn about service on the Board of Education. The new member will be provided a package of materials including the Board member handbook, the Board of Education budget document, and other appropriate materials.
Upon their election to the Board, newly elected Board members will be provided this orientation opportunity, including the opportunity to attend professional development opportunities such as the CABE/CAPSS Convention if provided in the annual budget and invited to meet with the Superintendent to tour the schools.
The Board is committed, both individually and as an organization, to the principles of continuous improvement and ongoing education, and understands that in order to perform as a high-functioning professional organization its members must be well educated about the Regional District 13 schools, board governance and educational best practices. The Board will look to identify and provide professional development opportunities for Board members, and Board members will be encouraged to participate in these learning opportunities. The Board will reimburse members for reasonable, pre-approved expenses for professional development.
Examples of these professional development opportunities, but by no means the only opportunities, are the CABE/CAPSS Annual Convention, as well as seminars conducted by the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education provided such opportunities are funded within the current school budget.
Board members are also expected to read the same professional articles that are utilized by school administrators, as well as share and exchange professional articles among themselves.
The Board of Education has three officers, president, secretary and treasurer. The Board elects officers at its meeting held in July. Officers are elected by a majority vote of those members present and voting.
The Board chair presides at all meetings and serves as the Board spokesperson. He/she is responsible for appointing Board members to committees, and signs documents, and contracts on behalf of the Board. The Board chair works closely with the superintendent of schools to plan meeting agendas and may call special meetings of the Board.
The Board secretary shall sign all papers that require the signature of the Board and act as the Board’s representative in legal matters. The secretary presides over meetings when the president is absent.
The Board treasurer is the fiduciary agent of the Board of Education. He/she shall sign all checks for the board, make investments, arrange for loans and notes and supervises the payment of all financial obligations of the Board.
The superintendent of schools, pursuant to state law, is the CEO of Regional School District 13. He/she is responsible for leading and managing the school district, hiring and supervising personnel, developing and administering the budget, and advising the Board on educational developments, board policies and applicable laws. The superintendent of schools shall regularly communicate to the Board the status of student learning and the district’s progress in meeting its stated goals.
The superintendent of schools attends all meetings of the Board and works closely with the Board in developing goals and initiatives, and is responsible for the implementation of these initiatives. Although the superintendent of schools is directly employed and supervised by the Board, his/her working relationship with the Board is such that he/she is generally considered the Board’s “eleventh member.”
One of the primary responsibilities of the Board is to develop policies to govern the school district and the Board, which will serve as guideposts and guidelines for the effective and efficient operation of a school district committed to providing an exceptional educational experience for each student. Board policies are developed according to requirements set forth in Connecticut Statutes, State Department of Education recommendations, and the Board’s own bylaws, policies and mission statement. In order for Board policies to effectively perform their stated purpose, it is important that they are regularly reviewed and updated. In order to ensure that Board policies are current and in compliance with statutory requirements, the Board may utilize attorneys or other outside consultants. While the Board may be advised concerning its policies by the superintendent of schools, its attorney or other consultants, the adoption of new policies, or the revision or repeal of existing policies is the sole responsibility of the Board.
The adoption of Board policies is governed by Board Policy 9311. Board policies shall be presented to Board members at a Board meeting and a vote shall occur at a subsequent meeting before they can be adopted by the Board.
Board policies and bylaws may be suspended for a specific purpose and limited time by a majority vote of Board members in attendance when there is prior written notice. Absent such written notice, suspension of Board policies requires a majority vote of the entire Board. The suspension of Board bylaws requires a two-thirds vote of the entire Board absent prior written notice.
One of the responsibilities of the Board of Education is to conduct hearings. A minimum of three members of the Board are needed to serve on a hearing committee. For many of these hearings, such as student expulsion hearings, school accommodation hearings, transportation hearings and teacher termination hearings, the Board serves as an impartial hearing board. In these instances, Board members who serve on the panel must make their decision based only on the evidence and information presented at the hearing. Regardless of whether the Board is serving as an impartial panel, or in grievance hearings, Board members have an obligation to treat those before them respectfully and fairly, adhering to the highest standards of professional conduct.
The Board of Education is responsible for the appointment of the superintendent of schools. When conducting a search for a superintendent, the Board may vote itself as the personnel search committee. If so, it may meet as the personnel search committee without public notice of its meetings or a requirement to allow the public to attend.
The search for, and selection of, a superintendent of schools is one of the most important decisions that a board of education can make. Accordingly, this process should be thoughtful and informed, made with a clear understanding of the needs of the school district and the corresponding characteristics of an ideal superintendent, as well as an awareness of the availability of potential candidates. Although each search process is unique, generally the Board would be well advised to consult with the public and other informed individuals, both in and outside the district, when conducting a superintendent search.
Generally speaking, the Board does not have the primary role in the hiring process, except for the superintendent of schools. It is Board policy to authorize the superintendent of schools to hire teachers and other personnel without direct involvement on the part of Board members.
When hiring school administrators, the Board has a more direct role. A minimum of two Board members as selected by the Board chair and the Superintendent, will participate in the interview process. In addition to Board members the committee should consist of community members, teachers and administrators. The superintendent’s recommended finalist/s for administrative positions is interviewed by the Board who votes to approve. The Board’s role is one of approval of the selected candidate; it cannot hire certified personnel without the prior recommendation of the superintendent of schools.
The Board is responsible for the adoption of a budget for the school district. The superintendent of schools presents a proposed budget to the Board by February. Before adopting the budget, the Board shall study the school program in relation to the needs of the students and the community in order to establish budget priorities. Not less than two weeks before the district annual meeting held on the first Monday in May, the Board shall hold a public district meeting to present a proposed budget for the next fiscal year. Any person may recommend the inclusion or deletion of expenditures at such time. After the public hearing, the board shall prepare an annual budget for the next fiscal year, make available on request copies thereof and deliver a reasonable number to the town clerk of each town in the district at least five days before the annual meeting. At the annual meeting, the Board shall present a budget which includes a statement of (1) estimated receipts and expenditures for the next fiscal year, (2) estimated receipts and expenditures for the current fiscal year, (3) estimated surplus or deficit in operating funds at the end of the current fiscal year, (4) bonded or other debt, (5) estimated per pupil expenditure for the current and for the next fiscal year and (6) such other information as deemed necessary.
As the superintendent of schools is the only school district employee directly supervised by the Board of Education, the Board is responsible for evaluating the superintendent’s performance, as well as making decisions concerning his/her contract of employment, such as compensation and extending the term of the contract. Beginning in May, the Board shall conduct an evaluation of the superintendent’s performance, utilizing a process and standards of performance that have been agreed upon in advance with the superintendent of schools.
Following the conclusion of the school year, the Board shall meet to conduct a self- evaluation of its own performance. The self-evaluation shall be based, in large part, on the Board’s success in making progress towards meeting its stated goals. As part of the self-evaluation process, the Board will solicit input from the district administrators as to the Board’s performance over the past year.
An essential part of the self-evaluation process is a focus on board governance. It is expected that the Board will look carefully at its conduct at board meetings, its adherence to policy, its treatment of the public, staff and one another, as well as on its focus on student achievement and ability to distinguish between governance and management
The Board recognizes that in order to properly develop a long range and in-depth plan for school improvement, it will be necessary to regularly meet in a retreat setting to allow for a more focused discussion of school district performance and initiatives. Although they are considered special meetings of the Board of Education, retreats are generally held at times and/or locations that are different from regularly scheduled meetings. In addition to the attendance of all Board members, the Board may invite the superintendent of schools, school administrators or other individuals to participate in its retreat.
Although Board of Education members are encouraged to visit schools independently, they have authority only in regularly called meetings of the Board of Education, or when delegated specific tasks by specific Board of Education action, and must be mindful that they do not serve in an administrative function. If a Board member wishes to visit one or more of the district’s schools, he/she should first inform the superintendent, who will then work with the appropriate school principal to schedule a visit.
It is important for Board members to be informed about the school district and the performance of our students. The superintendent of schools and school administrators regularly provide Board members with data and information at Board meetings. Board members who seek additional information are encouraged to work through the standing Board committees to obtain this information. If the information sought by individual Board members is not readily available through the work of the committees, Board members are to coordinate their information requests with the Board Chair to ensure that the information requests submitted to the superintendent of schools, do not overwhelm them so as to distract them from their primary responsibilities.
Except for statutorily mandated exceptions, such as expulsion and residency hearings, Board members do not get involved with individual student matters. Individual student information is confidential and Board members only have access to this information when that information is necessary for Board members to perform a function in their official capacity.
Connecticut law provides that the school district shall protect and save harmless any school employees, volunteers and board members from any claim, demand, suit or judgement by reason of alleged negligence in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. This protection includes legal fees and costs, financial loss and expense, and other costs.
Reference: Connecticut General Statute §10-235
In order to appropriately apprise the public of the Board’s work, Board minutes should contain the time of the meeting; members in attendance; a brief description of any business transacted by the Board, along with any Board action; the recording of Board member votes; and a description of any executive session held, along with the names of all individuals present for the executive session.
AYP – Adequate Yearly Progress
CABE – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education
CAPSS – Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents CAS – Connecticut Association of Schools
CEA – Connecticut Education Association
CHRO – Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities CIAC – Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference
DRG – District Reference Group
DSAP – Durational Shortage Area Permit ECS – Educational Cost Sharing
ELL – English Language Learners ESL – English as a Second Language
ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act FOIA – Freedom of Information Act
FOIC – Freedom of Information Commission GED – General Educational Development
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDT – Interdisciplinary Team
IEP – Individualized Education Program MBR – Minimum Budget Requirement MER – Minimum Expenditure Requirement MERA – Municipal Employee Relations Act NCEP – Net Current Expenditures per Pupil NCLB – No Child Left Behind Act
NEASC – New England Association of Schools and Colleges NESDEC – New England School Development Council NSBA – National School Board Association
OCR – Office of Civil Rights
PPT – Planning and Placement Team