Board Leadership Academy

2016 Magna Grand Prize Winner - 20,000

Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District, Bedford, Texas

Grand Prize Winner: Over 20,000 Enrollment

The Hurst-Euless-Bedford School District, near the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, is a diverse, minority-majority system with 74 languages spoken. School district leaders subscribe to Malcom Baldrige’s philosophy of continuous improvement. Succession planning is part of that process.

School board members realized that, while the superintendent and others in the district had succession plans, the board did not.

“We wanted to do something to train a cadre of people who might not run for the board, but who had the knowledge and understanding of district operations to do so,” says Faye Beaulieu, a 21-year veteran of the school board.

The Board Leadership Academy, which earned the district a Magna Grand Prize in the over 20,000 category, is a six-month program for community members to learn more about the inner operations of the school district and the school board’s governance role. The group meets once a month, and each session covers a different topic:

1. An overview of board member roles and work

2. The district and board approach and philosophy

3. Educational operations

4. Business operations

5. District tour

6. Questions and answers about board service.

“We recognized that, in the community, people didn’t understand what our job was,” says school board President Ellen Jones. “It’s an opportunity to empower people to be ambassadors for us.”

When the program started in 2010, the board asked principals and other staff to recommend participants from the community. Now enrollment is open, and board members will ask people they believe would benefit. An effort is made to invite naysayers in the community.

“Some people who have come through have had the potential to be anti-public schools and now see from a different perspective,” says Jones. “They get so focused on an issue. We want them to see a bigger picture, and this is a wonderful platform for them to see it.”

The academy gives participants an insider’s view of the district. “They see the good, bad, and ugly. They see the warts,” says Beaulieu. “We show them where our challenges are, our successes, and what we need to work on.”

This level of understanding translates to community support, and bolsters community members to tell their friends, neighbors, and colleagues about what’s going on the school system, says Superintendent Steven Chapman. “It’s important to arm individuals with information and allow them to tell our story,” he says. “There’s lots of good things going on in our district.”

Another benefit of the program has been to increase diversity and minority representation on the board. “We wouldn’t have gotten there if we had waited for them to run for the board,” says Beaulieu. “We now look like our community.”

Since the academy’s inception, 90 people have gone through the program. Four have been elected to the school board. Other graduates serve on district committees and a foundation that helps with school bond elections.

The program’s goal is not to pick and choose school board members. However, academy graduates definitely have an advantage when they run for office.

“You can’t control who runs for the board,” says Beaulieu. “That is not how democracy works. But when you are in a candidate forum, and some of our leadership academy people are speaking, it becomes obvious who is knowledgeable.”


Deanne Hullender
Public Relations & Marketing Officer

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