3. Governance

UNDERSTANDING CHURCH STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE

It is important for conference superintendents to understand the organization of Adventist education across the North American Division.

The governance structure is illustrated in the flowchart below. Notice that some arrows indicate lines of authority and others indicate advisory functions. On the following pages are descriptive highlights of the relationships between entities of interest and local conference superintendents.

The organizational structure, governance roles, and leadership responsibilities of the entities below are recorded in the NAD Working Policy (sections: FEA, FEB, FEC, and FED). This information is usually replicated in the union Education Code, along with policies and guidelines that integrate appropriate state/provincial laws and regulations applicable to Adventist schools in the union territory.

For each organizational entity a “sample” list of roles and responsibilities follows:

NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION (NAD)

NAD Board of Education (NADBOE)
  • Authorize programs, projects, and research to support the ministry of Adventist education.
  • Approve and fund curriculum development, including textbook production and adoption.
  • Review and adopt educators’ certification requirements.
  • Authorize the establishment of new secondary schools.
NAD Office of Education (NADOE)
  • Coordinate all major curriculum-development initiatives.
  • Lead in planning and hosting NAD-wide teacher and administrator conventions.
  • Direct the school accreditation process.
  • Develop and supervise the educator certification program.
  • Facilitate collaboration in education policy development.
  • Create resources that acquaint church members with the ministry of Adventist education.

UNION CONFERENCES

Union Conference Board of Education (UCBOE)
  • Approve policies for inclusion in the Education Code.
  • Authorize, oversee, and accredit junior academy programs.
  • Review and approve special projects, research, and innovative pilot programs.
  • Adopt annual wage scales aligned with NAD and union executive committee actions.
Union Conference Office of Education (UCOE)
  • Implement denominational certification for educators.
  • Lead in developing and maintaining the Education Code.
  • Process applications for new junior and senior academies.
  • Provide leadership for education councils considering a wide array of policies, programs, and professional practices.
  • Lead and assist with on-campus school evaluations.
  • Consult with superintendents on various issues of curriculum, instruction, and administration.

LOCAL CONFERENCES

Conference Board of Education (LCBOE)

The board of education is the body granted delegated authority by the local conference executive committee to oversee the K-12 school. The conference holds legal status as the owner of all schools within the conference and is the employer of all school personnel. The superintendent is the primary advisor to the board, serves as the executive secretary of the board, and is the spokesperson of the board to the conference educators and constituents. Board membership should be identified in the conference constitution and bylaws. The superintendent should exercise influence in making membership recommendations, where appropriate.

A complete description of the functions of the conference board of education is in the union Education Code. Boards of education are empowered to:

  • exercise governing authority for planning and implementing effective programs and policies.
  • act on recommendations in the employment, transfer, suspension, and dismissal of education personnel.
  • make recommendations on an annual budget for the school system and office of education.
  • review wages and benefits to ensure accountability to approved policies.
  • ratify annual reports of elementary school evaluations and grant terms of accreditation.
  • adopt a school calendar that meets union and state or provincial requirements.
  • review and approve applications for establishing new schools and/or junior academy requests for secondary subject offerings.
  • make provision for implementation of NAD/union-developed and approved curriculum initiatives.
  • arbitrate school-related appeals and employee grievances.
Conference Office of Education (LCOE)

The local conference office of education is the administrative entity for the conference K-12 school system. It is the assignment of the educational personnel in this office to operate the educational program within the structure authorized by the conference executive committee and based on the policies, programs, and practices contained in the union Education Code and applicable NAD Working Policy.

The local conference office/department of education provides leadership and supervision through the superintendent of schools, associate and/or assistant superintendent(s), and administrative support staff. The superintendent is the chief executive officer of the conference school system with a wide array of responsibilities in many areas including:

  • general administration
  • financial management
  • personnel functions
  • curriculum leadership
  • instructional supervision and evaluation
  • professional development
  • school evaluation and assessment
  • system and facility planning

Within each of these areas are vital functions and practices to be accomplished regularly and consistently to ensure that Adventist schools are on a “journey to excellence.” For a full listing of the comprehensive responsibilities of the local conference office of education, please consult your union Education Code.

THE SCHOOL

Local School Constituency

The school constituency consists of the local church or churches that have joined together to operate the Adventist school together with conference representatives. The school constitution should set the requirements for meetings of the constituency, including the criteria for voting members, which are representative of the members of the constituent church(es), the local conference, and, possibly, the union conference.

The functions of the school constituency are to:

  • receive reports on the school’s operation.
  • review and approve an annual school operating budget.
  • provide funds to meet the general operating expenses.
  • approve and fund major capital improvements as recommended by the school board.
  • adopt, review, and revise the school constitution in harmony with denominational policies and according to the provisions of the constitution.
Local School Board

Each school is to have a local school board to act on behalf of the constituency to oversee regular school operations. School boards are typically empowered to:

  • adopt and regularly review the school’s philosophy/mission.
  • support the utilization of the approved denominational curriculum, textbooks, and instructional resources.
  • implement policies and plans voted by the conference board.
  • provide leadership in funding major projects and initiatives.
  • develop local policies and practices for things such as:
    • budget development and regular financial review.
    • setting tuition/fees and collections practices.
    • administrative purchasing procedures.
    • student life (i.e., dress code, decorum, trips).
    • safety protocols and maintenance procedures.
    • school facility and equipment usage.
    • school improvement planning.
  • review personnel assignments and teaching loads.
  • support professional development of personnel.
  • participate in the school evaluation process.
  • authorize preparation of a school bulletin/handbook.
  • consider appeals and respond to major proposals.

Members and officers of the school board shall be elected as specified by the school constitution. The principal is to be the executive secretary and act as agent and representative of the board. In addition, the school board is to identify conference officers, the superintendent, and the union director of education as ex officio voting board members. The conference superintendent and/or associates should regularly attend a reasonable number of board meetings each year at each school.

The school board is responsible for ensuring that the local school operates in accordance with the policies and guidelines found in the union Education Code, policies adopted by the conference board specific to that conference, the provisions of the school constitution, and other policies previously adopted by the local school board.

The superintendent plays a vital consultative role by providing information and responding to questions on current policy, best practices, and effective programs. Since the superintendent is the agent of the conference board of education, the employer of all educational personnel, no board personnel function should occur without conference office of education representation.

School Principal

Each school is to have a principal who is the organization’s leader. The administrative services provided by the principal vary based on the type and size of the local school. In all cases the principal is the chief administrator. The importance of this position is highlighted in the NAD Handbook for Principals. This publication includes roles, responsibilities, best practices for school leaders, and helpful tips for successful school administration.

Among the principal’s administrative functions are responsibilities to:

  • provide spiritual leadership on campus.
  • serve as executive secretary for the local school board.
  • act as agent of the school board in administering the voted policies in a school program aligned with NAD, union, and conference policies.
  • develop and organize the entire school program.
  • serve as fiscal manager for sound financial operation.
  • maintain effective record-keeping systems for all student, school, and board records.
  • establish positive community and constituency relations.
  • assume responsibility for marketing and recruitment.
  • lead the instructional program and professional development opportunities.
  • maintain discipline in accordance with Christian principles.
  • coordinate the school’s evaluation Self-study Report and on-campus visit.
  • Ensure campus safety by applicable orientations/drills, and provide for regular inspection and maintenance of school facilities and equipment.

ROLES OF GOVERNANCE AND ADMINISTRATION

Orientation and training for board members and chairpersons should be organized and facilitated by the superintendent on a regular basis. Members’ understanding of the role and function of the board and best practices for meetings and board member ethics are essential for effective board outcomes.

It is particularly important to help board members understand the difference between governance and administration to minimize misunderstandings and potential conflicts between the board and administrator. When the board acts to set the purpose and policies that will meet the current realities, fund the desired results, and establish accountability processes, they have fulfilled their responsibility to govern.

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