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Workshop Catalog


From school law and policy to community relations and strategic planning, there’s a WASB program or presentation available that can improve the knowledge and skills of school board members, administrators, and other employees in your school district.  Whether targeted for individuals who are relatively new to their role as a school official, or for those who have more extensive experience, WASB programs encourage continuous learning and foster the effective practices that will help your school board achieve its goals.

All of the programs and presentations listed below are available for scheduling by individual school districts (for the school board and/or for district employees) or by groups of districts that share a common interest in a particular topic. Any of the topics below can be combined into a unique workshop to meet a district’s individual needs.

Interested in board development, but not quite sure where to begin? Check out our introductory series of workshops below.

Contact the WASB today to schedule a customized, on-site workshop! (Some of the programs are also offered at pre-scheduled times for any board member of any district to attend. Contact the WASB for more information.)

Introductory Series
Key Work of School Boards – An Overview

The Key Work of School Boards provides clear guidance for board members looking to develop the leadership skills they need to deal with today’s educational and political challenges. The framework uses a systems approach to help school boards focus on student achievement. Learn how to use this practical framework to make a difference in your district.

Legal Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards

The Legal Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards Workshop provides an overview of key areas of Wisconsin law, including open meetings, public records, conflicts of interest, liability and risk management, and a board’s power and duties.

Financial Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards

The Financial Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards Workshop provides an overview of key areas of school district budgeting for school board members, including relevant statutes, the budgeting process, effective and efficient resource utilization, and community participation.

Understanding Rules of Order and Related Procedures for Board Meetings

Formal parliamentary procedure can be a dense maze of cumbersome and arcane rules, and, in some cases, can actually interfere with running effective and efficient board meetings. At the same time, whether established in written policy or through practices that have developed over time, all school boards need to have some local “rules of order” for their meetings. This session identifies the advantages of establishing a defined and mutually understood set of core meeting procedures, including procedures for making and seconding motions, amending and withdrawing motions, using and documenting “unanimous consent,” postponing consideration of agenda items, procedures for “undoing” or revisiting motions that were already voted upon. The presentation will also identify a number of issues on which state law establishes specific procedural or voting requirements. When run as a workshop for a single school board, the goals will include drafting an updated board policy to address rules of order and improving each board member’s own understanding of particular meeting procedures.

School Board Policy Development – Introduction

Along with the strategic plan, the budget, the district administrator’s contract and evaluation, a school board’s policies are among the key documents through which a school board governs the district. Board policies embody and document many of the board’s significant decisions and expectations, and they provide the guides and the framework within which district employees operate as they approach their work and the day-to-day issues that call for the exercise of discretion. This workshop, which includes several “hands on” exercises for the participants, will orient board members to the important work of policy development, address best practices, and highlight WASB resources that are available to assist school boards and administrators with their policy-related responsibilities.

Leadership Development
Key Work of School Boards: An Overview

The Key Work of School Boards provides clear guidance for board members looking to develop the leadership skills they need to deal with today’s educational and political challenges. The framework uses a systems approach to help school boards focus on student achievement. Learn how to use this practical framework to make a difference in your district.

Key Work in Action: Vision and Alignment

Combine downward pressure on public school financing, upward pressure on measurable advances in student achievement, and the unique pressures present in each of Wisconsin’s 422 school districts, and you’ve got a complicated set of challenges. Building on the Vision and Alignment chapters in the Key Work of School Boards, this session will focus on the school board’s distinct and challenging role in budgeting. Regardless of which alignment-related skills you hope to build, this workshop will make a difference.

Effective School Board Practices – Establishing Protocol and Practices

School boards are monitoring one of the largest businesses in a community. This workshop will engage you in a conversation about establishing important protocols and practices as a board to allow you to address conflict on the board or with the community in a thoughtful, deliberate manner.

Leadership Development of School Board, Climate, Politics and Communication (one- to two-hour session)

This session will deal with leadership development of the school board, communication among school board members and the superintendent, the climate necessary for solid communication, and how politics will influence the communication within and outside the school district

Leadership Team Development for School Board and Superintendent (one- to two-hour session)

This session will deal with the leadership team development focusing on the school board and superintendent. Areas covered will be trust building, decision making, school board dynamics, goal setting, and community interaction.

Leadership as Communication

The complexity of the problems we face requires a leadership style that is very different than what worked in the past. Today, effective leadership is grounded in communication and strong relationships. This workshop outlines key communication dynamics of effective leadership and provides time to practice communication tools to take back and use in your district.

Effective Listening Skills

Effective communication is at the heart of every successful working relationship.  Proficient listening skills are especially essential because they reduce misunderstandings and contribute to teamwork and constructive conflict management – saving time, money and frustration. A spirit of inquiry, rather than advocacy, can also help you use conflict effectively. In this workshop, you will learn how to identify obstacles to effective listening and improve your listening skills to communicate constructively with teachers, administrators, parents, students, and the public to create productive relationships and build strong schools. You will also learn how to use questions to focus your conversations and understand how to communicate constructively to create productive relationships and building strong schools.

The Opportunity of Conflict

Conflict occurs naturally and can present an opportunity for growth, understanding, and change.  When ignored or mismanaged, conflict can be a destructive force that wastes time, energy and money while damaging the kind of working relationships necessary for getting things done.  Learn tips and tools to help you become more comfortable with conflict, manage conflict constructively and work together with board members, administrators, teachers, parents, students and the public for win-win resolutions.

Politics of Leadership

The reality of school leadership sets in when you see political undertones surrounding the many issues you must deal with as a school board member. This workshop is designed to help arm you with ideas to operate above the political fray.

Understand and Deal with Stress to Improve Leadership Performance

School leadership positions are fraught with stressful situations that require immediate action. Many times, these actions are subject to extensive public oversight, second guessing, and criticism from a variety of sources. This workshop will focus on the common reasons for stress and suggest ways in which leaders can address stress to find more enjoyment in their professional work and personal lives.

Board Operations
An Introduction to the Sources and Structure of Wisconsin School Law

Are you new to the school board or new to an administrative role? Do you have some basic questions about the sources and structure of the state and federal laws that apply to school districts? This workshop will provide an introductory foundation which facilitate your ability to understand references to legal provisions and on which you will be able to build your content knowledge in the future.

Legal Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards

The Legal Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards Workshop provides an overview of key areas of Wisconsin law, including open meetings, public records, conflicts of interest, liability and risk management, and a board’s power and duties.

Financial Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards

The Financial Roles and Responsibilities of School Boards Workshop provides an overview of key areas of school district budgeting for school board members, including relevant statutes, the budgeting process, effective and efficient resource utilization, and community participation.

Data First—Foundations 1

Learn simple practices to effectively organize and present data to your board and your public. This workshop will also review key questions to ask any time data are in front of you. You will do hands-on exercises to put the principles into practice. Core concepts come from Data First for Governance, a research-based, board-tested workshop series developed by the Center for Public Education and the National School Boards Association.

Data First—Foundations 2

This course builds on the Foundations 1 information by helping board members learn what decisions and actions are needed after considering data. Data isn’t a trend, it’s a necessity, and boards must be able to use data to determine the effectiveness of their work and the progress being made to impact achievement. School funding, state and federal mandates and community support all demand high levels of accountability using data.

Master Planning and Strategic Thinking

In order to perform at high levels, school districts need a written plan that embodies community values, educational best practices and an unrelenting focus on student learning. This written plan can be achieved through systematic, comprehensive, and analytical processes.

The WASB is committed to assisting school districts in conducting an objective assessment and analysis of WHAT YOU KNOW about your district.  This includes the full understanding of educational trends, student performance data and the current state of the districts program structure, finances and facilities. The WASB is also well equipped to assist school districts to have a clear understanding of WHAT YOU BELIEVE, and most critically to assure a clear ear is open to what your community believes are their expectations.

More information about the WASB Master Planning process

School Board Policy Development – Introduction

Along with the strategic plan, the budget, the district administrator’s contract and evaluation, a school board’s policies are among the key documents through which a school board governs the district. Board policies embody and document many of the board’s significant decisions and expectations, and they provide the guides and the framework within which district employees operate as they approach their work and the day-to-day issues that call for the exercise of discretion. This workshop, which includes several “hands on” exercises for the participants, will orient board members to the important work of policy development, address best practices, and highlight WASB resources that are available to assist school boards and administrators with their policy-related responsibilities.

Understanding Rules of Order and Related Procedures for Board Meetings

Formal parliamentary procedure can be a dense maze of cumbersome and arcane rules, and, in some cases, can actually interfere with running effective and efficient board meetings. At the same time, whether established in written policy or through practices that have developed over time, all school boards need to have some local “rules of order” for their meetings. This session identifies the advantages of establishing a defined and mutually understood set of core meeting procedures, including procedures for making and seconding motions, amending and withdrawing motions, using and documenting “unanimous consent,” postponing consideration of agenda items, procedures for “undoing” or revisiting motions that were already voted upon. The presentation will also identify a number of issues on which state law establishes specific procedural or voting requirements. When run as a workshop for a single school board, the goals will include drafting an updated board policy to address rules of order and improving each board member’s own understanding of particular meeting procedures.

Roles and Responsibilities– Board Members and Officers

This series of presentations is valuable to all board members. Each presentation discusses the specific roles of each board office.

Conflicts of Interest and Incompatibility of Office for School Board Members

Wisconsin law prohibits board members from having a private interest in public contracts and from using their office to obtain anything of substantial value. The law also prohibits board members from holding positions that are incompatible with service on a school board. These laws have significant implications for board members who work for entities contracting with school districts and for board members married to school employees. Can a school employee serve on a school board? Can a board member be a volunteer coach? Staff will address these questions and more in this presentation.

Using Policy to Manage Complaints

This presentation addresses how an understanding of and coordination among a school district’s various complaint policies and procedures can help the school board and the administration resolve complaints more effectively.

The Wisconsin Open Meetings Law

Open Meeting Law questions are commonly received by WASB Legal Services staff. This presentation will cover the basics of the Open Meeting Law, with emphasis on how the Open Meeting Law changes the way boards talk about employee handbooks as compared to meeting in closed session to discuss collective bargaining strategies.

The Wisconsin Public Records Law

This presentation will review basic public records law requirements with a focus on responding to records requests.

System Capacity, Administrative Structure, and Administrative Effectiveness (one- to two-hour session)

This session will focus on task identification and school board expectations as it relates to school system capacity to accomplish tasks and its relationship to school administrative structure and leadership effectiveness when dealing with staff and instructional improvement.

Note: Local school situations will be addressed, if desired, and the session will then be two hours in length.

Referendums: Legal and Policy Considerations

This session will address legal issues, policies, procedures and timing of referenda. It will include use of district funds and resources, roles of the board, individual board members and staff, and interactions with third-party groups, e.g. “vote yes,” “vote no.”

Are You Ready for A Referendum? Part 1: Facilities and Financial Assessments

It is a board’s obligation to conduct an objective assessment and analysis resulting in long-term, fiscally responsible operational, financial and facility plans. This session will present models to assist school board members in understanding the financial state of their districts and their facilities.

Are You Ready for A Referendum? Part 2: Facilities and Financial Plans

Drawing from needs assessments, academic and strategic plans, comprehensive facility assessments and financial assessments, districts need to establish the framework for implementing its goals and objectives of the district. This will include identifying priorities, time lines, relationships, costs, and a process to continually update the plan. This session will pull the planning work together and outline a strategic operational, financial and facilities plan.

Students
Pupil Records

This presentation covers state and federal laws relating to the maintenance and release of pupil records. The U.S. Department of Education has recently adopted new Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations. We will cover the basics of the pupil records law and focus on limitations to the release of pupil records and on recent changes in the law.

 Student Discipline: The Expulsion Process

This program provides a basic review of the legal standards, school board authority for student expulsion and the procedural requirements for the expulsion.

Advocacy and School-Community Relations
Key Work in Action: Community Engagement

Our publics are expecting that we do more than simply communicate to them; they want to provide feedback that gets used. This workshop will cover a Key Work component, community engagement. Learn about engagement tools that you can use to plan events that are more likely to get you the information that you need and give participants the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback. Understanding your board’s commitment to engagement, creating powerful questions, and planning an event that provides a space for dialogue are a few of the concepts covered in this workshop.

Messaging: If You Don’t Tell Your Story, Who Will?

In the grand marketplace of ideas, public school supporters too often let others provide messages about our schools. Do you have a district strategy to get important messages to your community? In this upbeat, interactive workshop, learn how to craft a message about your district, the different ways to get it out, and identifying community partners to publicly support your message—and more.

Employee Contracts, Handbooks and Policies
Administrator Contracts

This presentation covers all aspects of administrator contracts, including the drafting of contracts, contract term, application of section 118.24 Wis. Stat. to administrator nonrenewals and more.

After the Reduction in Force

Reducing staff requires special attention to board policies, handbook provisions, nonrenewal timelines and procedures, and individual contract language. However, the process does not end with the effective date of the separation from employment. This presentation will give an overview of a district’s continuing obligations to its employees after a separation from employment, and will specifically address seniority and recall rights (if any), unemployment compensation, and COBRA.

Alternative Compensation Systems

What are schools in Wisconsin and other states doing to change teacher pay? This presentation will examine pay systems in Wisconsin and other communities across the country, describing how those pay systems work and providing evaluative data on those systems where available.

Employee Evaluation Policies and Procedures

While many school districts are no longer subject to just cause requirements for teacher nonrenewal, an effective evaluation process is critical to avoiding discrimination complaints and other challenges to teacher nonrenewal. This presentation will review the steps needed to design and implement an effective evaluation system.

Employee Grievances and Complaints

It is wise to deal with grievances and complaints correctly within the time limits. We will educate you about grievance systems, the statutory grievance procedure, and discrimination and harassment.

Employee Handbooks, Employment Policies and Administrative Work Rules

Employment policies, work rules and procedures used to be governed by collective bargaining agreements for most school employees. Following the elimination of collective bargaining under Act 10, school boards and administrators should replace those contracts with employment policies, handbooks, and rules that balance interests of students, staff and the community. This presentation discusses recommended content, including a grievance procedure.

Employment Issues Unique to Extracurricular Assignments

This presentation will address the following commonly asked questions regarding extracurricular assignments:
• How do you evaluate employees holding extra-curricular assignments?
• What is the procedure for re-appointment, non-reappointment or dismissal?
• Can you use volunteers?
• How do you compensate extra-curricular positions? Are you in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act?
• How do Title IX complaints affect extra-curricular positions?

Evaluation – Superintendent / District Administrator (one- to two-hour session)

Leadership assessment is an integral part of any school district progress assessment. An environment of continuous improvement requires a developmental approach to evaluation. Evaluation of the District Administrator / Superintendent has not been established under the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness Model. However, school districts need to be ready and informed, by setting a tone for executive leadership evaluation. This session will provide some insights and meaningful tips for school board members and school leaders to enhance their existing evaluation system and prepare for future changes.

Note: Additional sessions can be arranged to design a local Superintendent/District Administrator evaluation system for your school district.

Hiring Guidelines

This presentation will cover the basics of hiring, including job descriptions, notices of vacancies, residency requirements, applications, interviews, medical inquiries, background and reference checks, offers of employment and more.

Impartial Hearing Officer

This presentation covers the basic information needed by an impartial hearing officer, including grievance timelines, pre-hearing motions, conducting the hearing and drafting the decision.

Individual Teacher Contracts

The elimination of collective bargaining by Act 10 elevates the importance of individual teacher contracts, which may become similar in content to administrator contracts. This presentation will focus on the process of drafting new contractual provisions to transition from traditional contracts to contracts that meet districts’ needs in the post-collective bargaining world.

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are an integral part of a school district’s operations. In addition to being legally required for certain staff members, they can assist with the hiring, orientation, and evaluation of employees. This presentation will cover characteristics of well-written job descriptions and advice on drafting and revising them.

Key Personnel Decisions After Hiring

This presentation will inform you about the important decisions made after hiring, including: transfer of employees, reduction of staff/percentage of contract for employees under individual contracts, employee handbooks and board policies including related state requirements and EEOC advice. Information about Wisconsin and federal laws related to employment discrimination will be included.

Managing Support Staff Personnel Decisions

This presentation will discuss Act 10’s and Act 32’s impact on HR management. You will learn how state and federal laws affect your grievance procedures, handbooks, compensation, payroll practices, fringe benefits and other conditions of employment.

Teacher Absenteeism

Given the detrimental effect that teacher absences have on a school’s financial situation and educational mission, school districts would be wise to investigate ways to increase attendance. Accordingly, this presentation covers research on (1) the effect of teacher absences on a school district’s budget and student achievement, and (2) initiatives that school boards can implement to improve teacher attendance.

Teacher Salary Schedules

While 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 eliminated most collective bargaining requirements, districts must still negotiate with unions over total base-wage increases. This presentation will review proposed Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission rules on bargaining base-wage increases under Act 10 and discuss modifications to teacher salary schedules under those rules.

Labor and Employment Law
Avoiding Prohibited Practices

The Municipal Employment Relations Act prohibits several types of employer and union misconduct, including discrimination, anti-union activity, refusals to bargain and violations of a collective bargaining agreement. This presentation will cover basic strategies for avoiding prohibited practice complaints and review the prohibited practice hearing process, should a complaint be filed.

Bargaining Following Act 10

While 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 substantially changed and limited collective bargaining in Wisconsin, it did not completely eliminate bargaining. The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission has issued new rules governing the calculation of base wage increases. This session will review board bargaining and other obligations following Act 10.

Employee Privacy Issues

Employee privacy and confidentiality issues confront school district officials on a regular basis. School district officials must be able to recognize those situations where they have a duty to maintain employee confidentiality or situations where the law precludes them from uncovering certain information. This presentation will examine employment situations where an employee’s privacy interests may be implicated and is designed to assist school district officials to react appropriately to potential employee privacy issues.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

Unions and employees will closely scrutinize overtime and minimum wage compensation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This presentation will cover the basic requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and will focus on potential problems unions will seize upon to challenge school payroll practices.

Family and Medical Leave

The federal and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Acts provide overlapping and sometimes conflicting requirements allowing employees leave for serious health conditions and the birth or adoption of a child. This presentation will review the provisions of both laws and give advice on responding to leave requests.

Harassment

Recognizing and preventing harassment is part of creating a productive working environment. Through this presentation, you will become informed about state and federal law, board policy and administrative guidelines, and case law related to harassment. You will learn how to protect yourself against charges of harassment.

Investigating Employee Misconduct

How do you conduct an effective investigation of employee misconduct? What are the contractual and legal pitfalls in an investigation of employee misconduct? What is just cause and how do you prove that you have it? Almost all union employees enjoy just cause protection after a probationary period. Just cause sets a very high standard for the investigation of employee misconduct. Missteps in the investigation can derail an employment termination. This presentation will address the investigation process step by step, with a focus on the administration and board role and on due process requirements. Investigation of misuse of school technology such as the internet and email will be highlighted along with developments in employee privacy rights and the application of the public records law to records generated in an employee misconduct investigation.

Prohibited Bases of Employment Discrimination (State and Federal)

This presentation outlines prohibited bases of employment discrimination under both state and federal law and recommends steps to comply with relevant legal requirements.

Protected and Unprotected Employee Speech

In Garcetti v. Ceballos, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a public employee’s speech that is undertaken pursuant to his/her official duties is not protected by the First Amendment. Public employers, including school districts, have substantial discretion to regulate such speech. Other types of public speech enjoy substantial legal protection under the First Amendment and as protected concerted activity under section 111.70(2). This presentation will help boards and administrations identify protected and unprotected employee speech and appropriate employer responses.

Teacher Contract Nonrenewal

This presentation will review the basics of teacher nonrenewal under section 118.22 of the Wisconsin Statutes and include guidance on the application of constitutional protections and discrimination laws to the teacher nonrenewal process. Also discussed are contractual just-cause provisions, public records law and open meeting law as they relate to the teacher nonrenewal process. Alternatives to nonrenewal will also be discussed.

Are you a new board member?

Check out the Introduction to Board Service Program, a component of the Member Recognition Program, for assistance in selecting workshops and sessions in your first years of office.

Learn more
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