Skip to content
Quick Start for:
Chapter 1
DISTRICT ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT

This chapter discusses the organization and management of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) in seven sections:

A. Governance
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
B. Planning
C. Policies and Procedures
D. District Management
E. School Management and Site-Based Decision-Making
F. Legal Services
G. Desegregation Order

A. GOVERNANCE (PART 2)

FINDING

Board members said that continuing-education training provided by TASB and the Region 10 Education Service Center was adequate, but that they had not received more specific and targeted training in complex issues that face large, urban school districts. Board Policy BBD (LEGAL) and BBD (LOCAL) require certain types of training, but the policies do not require and board members have not had targeted training in areas such as performance management, board public relations, board decorum (such as public meeting etiquette, and negative body language), change management and financial management and budgeting. Exhibit 1-5 summarizes samples of the type of training attended by DISD board members during the period September 1998 through October 2000.

Exhibit 1-5
Sample of Training Attended by DISD Board Members
September 1998 through October 2000
Training Session Staff Tyler Leos Price Zornes Parrott Williams Brashear Plata
How Does your District Compare? X                
Delegate Assembly - Resolutions X X   X          
Carver - Policy Governance X X X X X X X   X
Show Me Yours; Here's Mine X                
When Do They Kick In? X                
We are Going to Decide X                
TEC Update X   X X   X   X X
Carver - Team-Building X X X X X X X X X
Carver - Board Retreat X X X X X X X X X
Board President Training X                
Grassroots 2000 X X X X X X X X X
How to Corral a "Maverick" Board Member X                
Agreeing on and Writing Down Team Operations X                
Effective School Board Meetings - Introduction X                
Pathway to Effective Schools   X   X          
Effective Board-Superintendent Relationships   X              
What's the Big Idea?   X              
Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members   X   X       X  
Orientation to Code   X X            
Boardsmanship Basics   X     X   X    
Life as a Member of the Board   X X   X   X    
Solving Problems and Making Decisions   X     X   X    
Teamwork Basics   X X   X X X    
School Law, Policy and Personnel Basics   X     X        
TEC Orientation   X     X        
Five Models of Staff Development     X            
Building Effective School Governance     X            
Board Teamwork     X            
How Good Educational Leaders Make Tough Decisions     X            
Strategic Planning: Decision-Making with Community     X     X     X
Bilingual Exceptions and ESL Waivers-Issues     X            
Post Legislative Seminar     X X     X   X
Hispanic Student Excellence     X            
Grass Roots Advocacy Process     X            
Beyond the Culture Wars: How to Find Common Ground       X          
Growing up Digital       X          
Compressing Bilingual Education in an Urban District       X          
Seeds of Greatness       X          
Investigating the Open Meetings Act       X          
School Facilities Questions? We Have Answers!         X        
Serving as a School Trustee         X        
Assessing and Improving Leadership Skills           X      
The Four Roles of Leadership     X     X      
School Law Conference     X       X    
Governance Matters     X         X  
Curriculum Management Auditing                 X
Source: TASB Board Member Training Report, September 1998 - October 2000.

Exhibit 1-6 summarizes the average continuing education hours earned by board members during the period of March 1, 1996 to October 9, 2000.

Exhibit 1-6
Continuing Education Hours Earned by Board Members
March 1, 1996 to October 9, 2000
Name Current Tenure
Through
October 2000
Total
Credit
Hours
Total
Months From
3/96 to 10/2000
Average Credit
Hours Per
Month
Roxan Staff 5/96 - 10/2000 151.25 54 2.80
José Plata 2/95 - 10/2000 131.75 56 2.35
Kathleen Leos 5/95 - 10/2000 118.75 56 2.12
Lois Parrott 2/96 - 10/2000 108.25 56 1.93
George Williams 1/99 - 10/2000 90.00 22 4.09
Ron Price 5/97 - 10/2000 83.00 42 1.98
Se-Gwen Tyler 9/98 - 10/2000 76.50 26 2.94
Ken Zornes 6/99 - 10/2000 73.25 17 4.31
Hollis N. Brashear 6/92 - 10/2000 63.75 56 1.14
Average       2.63
Source: TASB Board Member Training Report, September 1998 - October 2000.

Exhibit 1-6 shows that board members earned an average of 2.63 continuing education hours per month during the period March 1, 1996 through October 9, 2000, adjusting for the number of months each member served during the TASB reporting period. There are five board members that earned fewer hours than average, with three of those five earning less than two credit hours per month during the period. This analysis shows that the less-tenured board members took advantage of more continuing education than those with the longest tenure. The analysis also supports the fact that, although the board has committed $60,000 to continuing education and travel for board members, participation in targeted training sessions has been sporadic by some members.

Some board members told TSPR that continuing-education training has been more than adequate, but not well attended. Some board members said that some of their colleagues routinely do not attend targeted training sessions-especially the John Carver Policy Governance training. Board members who did not attend the sessions told TSPR that John Carver publicly criticized the board, and they felt this was inappropriate.

Recommendation 4:

Provide specific and targeted continuing education for board members and amend board policies to require board members to attend "designated" mandatory continuing education.

Board members should list specific training sessions they would like to attend, and the executive director for Board Services should identify targeted continuing education opportunities that address their needs. Additionally, Board Policy BBD (LOCAL) should be amended to require mandatory attendance at key continuing education training sessions that will benefit the full board. The mandatory-attendance policy should be included as one of the board-member criteria subject to sanction in the revised code of conduct.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE
1. Board members identify specific types of training they wish to attend. August 2001
2. The executive director for Board Services compiles a list of board-member training requests and identifies targeted training opportunities. September 2001
3. The executive director for Board Services distributes the list of continuing professional-education training sessions to board members. October 2001
4. The executive director for Board Services drafts an amendment to Board Policy BBD (LOCAL) regarding continuing education. September 2001
5. The executive director for Board Services submits the policy change to the board for approval. October 2001
6. Board members attend targeted training sessions. November 2001 and Ongoing

FISCAL IMPACT

This recommendation can be implemented with existing resources.

FINDING

Some of the activities of the existing board standing committees are micromanagement at the committee level. DISD's board dismantled its standing committee structure during 1999-2000 and replaced it with five basic committees recommended by the Carver Policy Governance Model®: the Audit Committee, Governance and Policy Committee, Public Input Committee, Education Committee and the Committee of the Whole. The Audit Committee monitors all operations and administrative functions; the Governance and Policy Committee continuously updates and revises board policies and the related governance issues; the Public Input Committee develops creative strategies to obtain representative input from the general public; the Education Committee reviews and discusses curriculum and instruction-related issues and the Committee of the Whole reviews and approves all action items from the working committees. Accordingly, board members spend the majority of their time monitoring the implementation of board policy through the revised committee structure.

Most board members appear to approve of the existing committee structure because the committees provide opportunities for board members to assume leadership roles, become knowledgeable about district administration and operations and to interact with the executive leadership. However, some board members feel that the committee meeting schedule prevents them from attending all the committee meetings, while others feel that too many administrative and operations functions are handled in the committees. For example, the Audit Committee meeting is held during the morning and, although most board members with full-time jobs can commit to attending committee meetings one day per month, certain board members find it difficult to attend.

The Audit Committee is responsible for monitoring the implementation of board policy and is designed to be a forum where board members can seek clarification of any reports or background information presented by administrators related to action items to be placed on the regular meeting agenda. The Audit Committee monitors business and administrative activities including purchasing, finance, technology, human resources, facilities, transportation, food service and other district functions.

Board Policy BDB (LOCAL), adopted as part of the Carver Policy Governance Model®, states the following related to the structure of the Audit Committee: "1a. Product: The board will have a fully screened financial audit firm for board action no later than May of each year. Within 90 days following board action, the auditor will have a complete scope of audit. Random direct inspection monitoring of the board's asset protection and fiscal policies as chosen by the committee. 1b. Authority: To incur costs of no more than $150,000 in direct charges."

Audit committees of school districts typically oversee internal and external audits, with little involvement in other operational areas. However, the Carver Policy Governance Model® expands the board's authority and provides broad latitude for the board to monitor asset protection and fiscal policies of their choice, including activities that may not be covered in external audit reports such as vendor selection and evaluation during the competitive bidding process.

As a result of the broad policy statement included in Board Policy BDB (LOCAL), some board members and administrators said the Audit Committee covers too many functions, committee members abuse the committee's authority, and the committee has become a forum where directives are issued to the executive staff on behalf of the full board, which is actually micromanagement at the committee level. For example, one board member is said to have suggested particular vendors that the district should consider doing business with. TSPR representatives attended the January 9, 2001 Audit Committee meeting and witnessed a board member make a direct request of DISD staff. The committee was discussing how seven teams of instructional support personnel (referred to as "SWAT Teams") would be deployed throughout the district to assist low-performing schools improve student achievement. One board member, after listening to the staff's methodology for deploying the teams and the activities the teams would perform, directed the staff member to provide a list of names of members of each of the seven SWAT teams for their review-a clear example of micromanagement at the committee level and a violation of the board's Policy Governance Model® incorporated into Board Policy BA (LOCAL). Board Committee Principles Item 7, Paragraph 3 clearly states: "Board committees cannot exercise authority over staff. Because the superintendent works for the full board, he or she will not be required to obtain approval of a board committee before an executive action."

Additionally, members of the executive team also said they spend considerable time preparing for board committee meetings, regular board meetings and responding to direct requests from board members. For example, DISD central administrators report the same information to the Audit Committee and the Education Committee because some board members on the Education Committee cannot attend the Audit Committee meeting.

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) does not use permanent board committees or standing committees as part of its governance structure. HISD's board determined that one Committee of the Whole was an efficient way for all board members to become knowledgeable about district administration and operations and to interact with the district's executive leadership team. Board members review all agenda action items with the executive leadership team in the Committee of the Whole meeting, where each has the opportunity to ask questions before the regular board meeting. The superintendent and executive team provide supporting documentation and information as required, and the board issues no directives through the Committee of the Whole. Additionally, the board forms ad hoc committees to address specific issues as necessary. For example, the board formed an ad hoc Legislative Committee in 2000 to formulate the district's legislative agenda for the 2001 Texas Legislature. The board also formed an ad hoc Superintendent's Search Committee in 2001 to begin the process of replacing the superintendent. Both committees will be dissolved once their purpose is served.