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Charter Board Partners

Kansas City: We’re Already Implementing

May 10, 2018 | by David Connerty-Marin

Ron Cattelino is retired from the Kansas City Art Institute, where he was Executive Vice President for Administration. He has been a board member at Crossroads Charter Schools in Kansas City, Missouri, for four years and currently serves on the finance committee. Crossroads was founded as one school in 2012 serving 190 students in grades K-5, and has grown to become three schools serving 695 students in grades K-9. Crossroads will reach full capacity as a K-12 system serving nearly 1,300 students.

Ron Cattelino

Ron attended a Charter Board Partners breakout session at the Missouri Charter School Conference last fall, and then a full-day Governance Academy in March of this year. (Charter Board Partners is hosting several Governance Academies in Kansas City this year.)  He was joined by fellow board member Richard Moore for the training, which was led by Shereen Williams and Debbie Lister of CBP. We asked  Ron a few questions about his experience.

Q: What was your Governance Academy experience like?

I was impressed by the quality and background of the presenters. They had real experience and talked about charter schools that they had worked with. They brought real-life situations to the program. They didn’t just talk at us; they led interactive exercises, and we got to hear other people’s thoughts. They packed a lot in. Their professionalism was outstanding.

Q: What do you wish you and your fellow board members had known previously?

There was so much important information. They addressed finances, and they gave us key items and key issues to consider. They talked about academics and they gave us the six Standards for Effective Charter School Governance and a one-page summary, and  they went into quite a bit of detail. That’s where Richard and I got lots of ideas, like, “We’re not doing this. We should look into this—oh, we’re doing that, we’re doing this.” They gave us a charter school benchmark, a standard operating procedure. That’s where you need to start. 

Q: What did you take back to your board?

We’re already implementing two things from the six standards. One is a document for all board members to sign—what their duties and responsibilities are. We’ve done some cutting and pasting (from samples at the Governance Academy.) The other is an annual board calendar with a detailed list of items by the month that has to be approved, and also a list of information items to provide the board every month. 

Q: What’s something your board could do better?

All boards do this: sometimes we spend too much time on things we shouldn’t. We should delegate to committees to really dive into the details and bring that to the board so the board can really stay focused on our core values—excellence and the goals we’re trying to accomplish.

Q: What do you see as your job as a board member?

Governance and policy and not to get into the weeds. We have an executive director who has his senior staff. Board members have to be very careful not to get into the details or the weeds unless a staff member comes to a board member with expertise in an area. We hire the executive director and he reports to the board. He and his senior leadership team hire and supervise the rest of the staff.

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