The Senesh Board: Background
What the Senesh Board does:
The Senesh Board plays a number of different roles for the school.
The Board’s primary obligation is to chart a solid course for the future. That means that we think strategically, by understanding our environment and solving problems; we think generatively, by asking big questions and wrestling with challenges; and we think aspirationally, by looking at how we can best serve our students, families and communities.
The Board also must lead the school’s development efforts. Senesh must be each Board member’s charitable priority and each member must make a stretch gift to Senesh. Board members also must be active in encouraging others (parents, grandparents, outside sources) to give generously to Senesh.
The other critical Board responsibility is for the care of the present and future financial and legal health of the school.
All Board discussions are strictly confidential. This confidentiality is important so that Board members can feel free to engage in lively and honest debate. However, that does not mean that the Board’s work is confidential. The Board is committed to ensuring that our community is informed of its work and decisions.
In addition, while Board members must maintain their independence, they also must support the Head of School. Friction between the Board and the Head is a recipe for a dysfunctional school.
It also is important to know what the Board does not do: the Board does not run the school on a day to day basis. In other words, the Board does not make decisions about staffing, instruction, or classroom management. Those decisions are the exclusive domain of the Head of School and her/his staff.
How the Senesh Board does its job:
The Board has the following committees:
Committee on Trustees: Responsible for recruiting new Board members and maintaining the right size/balance on the Board and for Board education.
Development: Works closely with the Director of Development to manage the Annual Campaign, Gala, and Legacy and also to ensure further external gifts.
Facilities: Oversight of the building, properties, and growth opportunities.
Finance: Works closely with the Head of School and Finance Director regarding all matters relating to the budget.
Head Support and Evaluation: Work with the Head to set and achieve yearly goals.
Legal: Address any potential legal issues.
Strategic Plan: Review the Strategic Plan and ensure that the School is on track.
Every Board member sits on at least one committee. In general, committees meet every month or every other month, as needed. Committee assignments are based, first on the school’s need, and second on the Board member’s interest.
Every Board meeting begins with a d’var torah, connecting the lessons of the Torah to the work of the Board. In this way, we focus ourselves on the Senesh mission and set a tone for a thoughtful and productive meeting.
Our Board meetings are lively and engaged. We require respect, collegiality, and open communication.
Board meetings occur every other month during the school year and last two hours each. In addition to the d’var torah, standing agenda items include: a vote on minutes of the last meeting, report from the finance committee, report from the Head of School, and executive session.
Who is on the Senesh Board:
The Senesh Board is roughly equally divided between school parents and community members who do not have children at Senesh.
For our Board, we seek thoughtful people with diverse professional experiences (such as, but not limited to, educators, Jewish and non-profit leaders, business people, real estate professionals, lawyers, writers, and financial experts).
The Board needs to be the right size: big enough to bring a range of experience to the table, and small enough to foster real collaboration and to get the work done. The right size is 15-20.
A general seat on the Board is a three-year term.
Board officers hold their seats for a two-year term.
How Senesh Board members are chosen:
It is critical for every Senesh Board member to take responsibility for his or her individual commitment to the school: they must be prepared and present for meetings and contribute actively to the school.
Board members also must have a strong strategic orientation, focused on the future of the school.
The Board is not the forum for parents to address particular concerns about their students.