New board members for the Mancos School District got a lesson in governing Monday before assuming their posts.
Colorado Association of School Board officials Randy Black opened a school board workshop Monday, Nov. 18, telling those in power that the average citizen has a less than stellar opinion and understanding of the governing body and its roles. He challenged the board to be great at governing.
"A school board should govern, and accept their own responsibility for student achievement," Black said. "You can't put all the weight on the teachers, principals and superintendent."
Sworn into office on Monday were Blake Mitchell and Bo Hawkins. Both men and their families are products of the Mancos School District, and each have family experience to draw from. Mitchell's father and Hawkins' grand-father previously served on the school board.
"I think I can make a difference," said Hawkins, a heavy machine mechanic with two children currently enrolled in the district.
"I want to help get the kids better educated," said Mitchell, owner of a used auto dealership with two adult children.
Blake reminded the new board that they have one of the toughest jobs in the country, because every taxpayer and parent have individual, specialized needs and passions for education. He said the key to unraveling the puzzle is through honest dialogue and engagement with their constituents.
"Great teams have high standards of excellence," Blake said.
To have a greater impact in the community, Black suggested the board first identify its core values and goals.
He urged the board to set "wild, important goals."
"Throw big rock priorities into your bucket," he proclaimed. "If you don't, then small rocks will get in the way."
Starting with core values, Black said the board should employ behavioral norms to reach defined goals. That alignment, he said, would enable the board to accomplish their mission and ultimately reach their vision. The process leads to greater results, he said.
"You have to live a leadership life to prove that you know what you're doing," Blake said. "Choose a mature path, and have clear steps to know where you are going."
Mancos School superintendent Brian Hanson indicated the hour-long workshop was beneficial, citing changes needed to be implemented in setting the board's agenda.
"We have to have more meaningful conversations," Hanson said.
Blake concluded his remarks informing the new board they were the closest example of democracy for their students, daring them to do the best they could for those students.
"You have to see long, far and from a different perspective," Blake said.
At Monday's regular meeting, Mitchell was tapped as the board's new treasurer, and Hawkins was elected to serve as secretary. The new board also tapped Wesley Rivera to serve as vice-president, and Monty Guiles was reappointed as the board's president.