Strengthening connections with the community and focusing on policies that result in increased student achievement are two outcomes that the Bellingham School Board accomplishes by adopting a policy governance model. Policy governance, authored by John Carver and used by a growing number of cities, non-profits and school boards across the country, applies a specific set of principles to the leadership role.

These principles include governing the school district by focusing on results or “ends” – what Bellingham Public Schools graduates should know, understand and be able to do. By governing at this level, the board tells the superintendent what the board expects to be accomplished and leaves the methods for accomplishing those things up to the professionals. Policy governance allows the board to focus on larger issues, clearly delegate authority and direct the superintendent without interfering, but to continuously evaluate what is being accomplished.

Governance Process Policies
The board sets “board means.” These are the policies that describe the board’s job and how it directs the superintendent to achieve the “ends.” These also are referred to as the governance process.

Board/Superintendent Relationship Policies
The “Board/Superintendent Relationship” defines the connection between the board and the superintendent, directs the board to acts as a unit, creates accountability of the superintendent, delegation to the superintendent, and monitoring superintendent performance.

Ends Policies
The “ends” are the results the school board expects. The school board creates policies that define the “ends.” In this way, the board provides strategic leadership by clearly defining what is to be accomplished.

Executive Limitations
The superintendent doesn’t have complete freedom in making decisions about how to accomplish the ends. “Executive limitations” are policies that define what methods cannot be used to get the expected results. In essence, the school board is pre-approving all means that have not been expressly prohibited. This gives the superintendent the power to make decisions that create the desired ends.

Operating Policies – 1000 Series
Under a policy governance model, administrative policies and procedures that describe how the school district operates are set by the superintendent per policy 1310. However, some operational policies related to the board of directors are legally required and are not covered by governance policies.