“Dueling Boards,” the March 12 post at www.boardsavvysuperintendent.com, tells the true story of school and educational foundation boards at loggerheads – locked in a tense, competitive relationship that wasted oodles of precious emotional energy. In my experience, sad to say, it’s not unusual to come across school boards dueling with educational foundation boards, at the expense of education. So it’s really refreshing to hear Sand Springs (Oklahoma) Superintendent Lloyd Snow, his Board of Education Vice President Mike Mullins, and the President of the Sand Springs Education Foundation, Mike Luttrell, talk about the highly productive working relationship they’ve developed in this podcast they recorded for our blog.
Five key factors appear to account for the success of the district-foundation partnership in Sand Springs. First and foremost, members of the School and Foundation Boards are united in their commitment to student achievement, the overarching value that unites both boards. Second, Lloyd Snow and his Board of Education truly welcome community involvement in the Sand Springs Schools. They view the Education Foundation Board as a critical educational asset rather than competitor and don’t waste precious energy in defending their turf from imagined Foundation incursions. Third, the mission of the Sand Springs Education Foundation is crystal-clear and powerful: to provide financial support for concrete innovation initiatives aimed at promoting student achievement. Fourth, the Education Foundation is seen not only as a benefactor supplying sorely needed financial support to the Sand Springs Schools, but also as a vehicle for expanding community ownership of – and hence deepening the community’s commitment to – the Sand Springs School District. And fifth, the Sand Springs Schools and Education Foundation make sure their working relationship is managed and coordinated well enough to keep the two parties from stepping on each other’s toes, while avoiding the kind of bureaucratic rigmarole that would waste time and money and sap emotional energy.
After listening to Lloyd and the two Mikes describe the successful district-foundation partnership they’ve built in Sand Springs, I hope you’ll comment and share your own experience.