Fargo Public Schools' Board of Education
Fargo Public Schools has had a Board of Education (its formal name) since the founding of its first public school in 1874. (It became a nine member board in 1885.) Since the beginning, its top priority has been student achievement. The Board has only one employee that it supervises – the superintendent of schools, effectively the CEO of the school district. Its decisions as a group are binding on that one individual.
The Board’s primary role is governance, with student achievement as the central focus. Its responsibilities are many – just a few of them include managing the superintendency; fiscal oversight; setting District plans and goals; providing for program development; the adoption of instructional, administrative and operating policies; review and evaluation; and advocating on behalf of students and schools.
The Board operates under a policy governance model. It adheres to Governance Process, Board-Superintendent Relationship and Executive Limitations policies to do Board work and collaborate with administration. Through the policy governance model, there is a clear distinction between Board and Superintendent roles. The primary function of the Board is to establish the policies by which the schools are to be administered, but the administration of the educational program and the conduct of school business is at the discretion of the superintendent of schools. The Board governs with emphasis on organizational vision and focuses on strategic leadership rather than administrative detail. Decisions of the Board are made collectively, by majority vote, with a future orientation and a focus on the intended long-term benefits for students.
The nine members of the Fargo School Board all serve regular (and ad hoc) committee assignments, with representatives from the administration. The Board’s regular committees that meet annually on at least a quarterly basis are: Communications, Engagement and Advocacy; Governance; Governmental Affairs; Negotiations; and Planning. Board members also serve as liaisons to individual school buildings, and as designated FPS representatives on the boards and committees of various community organizations.
As elected servants of the District’s taxpayers, one of the goals of the Board is to be as transparent about its business as possible. The exemptions from North Dakota Open Meetings Law are short in number, and some are only temporary. Closed meetings, also known as “executive session,” are used when the legal authority exists to close them. Examples include litigation, confidential economic development information, contract negotiations, and disciplinary matters.
The Board’s meetings are broadcast live on public access (channel 56) and also streamed live and archived on YouTube.
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