GovernanceCorner Practical tips from our MIG faculty

How board handbooks play an integral role
The use of a governance handbook is a key step to building and maintaining a cohesive school district or county office of education governing board. It is a living document that memorializes the board’s working agreements and is a record of the board’s commitment to practicing effective governance.

The governance handbook should be reviewed biannually in a regular board meeting or scheduled for review at a special board workshop. It is particularly important for boards to introduce and review the handbook when new members are elected or appointed.

When conducting a review of the governance handbook, board members may consider discussing the following:

  • How effective are we in referencing the governance handbook throughout the year?
  • Is the current handbook an accurate reflection of our unity of purpose, protocols and/or working agreements? What recent updates have we made that need to be reflected in our governance handbook?
  • Do we need to revisit our unity of purpose, protocols and/or working agreements to reflect our current board and to be inclusive of newly seated board members?
  • What are the working agreements outlined in the handbook? How well do we operationalize them?
  • How could we better use the governance handbook to be a more effective governing team?
  • What steps could we take to better reference the governance handbook in the next year?

A thoughtfully developed, maintained and mutually agreed-upon handbook will promote continuity and consistency for a board and support exceptional governance leadership. For additional information on governance handbooks, reference the CSBA publication Call to Order, which can be found at If your board would like support to develop or revise a governance handbook, please contact CSBA for a Good Beginnings workshop facilitated by a CSBA Governance Consultant.