Education & Government
Jennifer Rose Hale Image
Jennifer Rose Hale
Former Client Partner, Texas Association of School Boards

Leveraging technology to equip school boards for the future

February 1, 2024
0 min read
Leveraging technology to equip school boards for the future

School board members often seek office to guide their schools today — through decisions around superintendent hires and evaluations, budgeting and goal setting. But the role of the school board goes beyond what is needed now. Board members must be able to look ahead and guide their schools into times that, to laypeople, might seem to require a crystal ball.

But being an effective school board member doesn’t require being — take your pick of famous foreseers — Nostradamus, the Oracle of Delphi or Punxsutawney Phil.

As we covered in a previous blog, we can identify future-ready boards by a few key elements. And, even better, boards can use technology, and, in particular, a modern, robust board management solution, to support their efforts to become future-ready and guide their schools into what lies ahead.

Using technology to help boards become future-ready

To review, a future-ready board has the following:

  • Insight into the future of education
  • Ability to align strategic planning with future needs
  • Willingness to prioritize digital literacy and technology integration
  • Continuing emphasis on equity and inclusiveness
  • Preparation for unforeseen challenges

These may seem out of reach when the board is knee-deep in a new student-transfer policy or fine arts budget line item. But consider the ways boards can act to become future-ready, and how the board management platform can play a part.

Evaluate policy processes. Policy development, evaluation and, occasionally, sunsetting is a huge part of the board’s deliberative effort. It is also a part that is ripe for inefficiencies. Board members must review numerous documents and drafts, get input from stakeholders and discuss and vote on policy changes — often multiple times before a final approval.

A board management solution can simplify and speed this process with automated notifications and built-in workflows, easy annotation and intuitive versioning and document organization. The policy book can then be published with a click.

Employ data-informed decision making. Today, the challenge school leaders have is not too little information — it’s too much. Streams of statistics, reports and charts can quickly become overwhelming. By making select data available through the board management solution, board members can cut through the noise and readily find the specific, credible data they need for issues under consideration.

The shared platform also ensures that the team is looking at the same materials at the same time — an improvement over scattered documents in emails, on paper and in directory folders.

Focus on security. Schools today are facing so many risks related to security. Because local governments are increasingly targeted by cybercrime, boards must make decisions and support efforts to protect school and student data. By using secure platforms and supporting smart strategies around data storage, boards can ensure their technology resources and sensitive data remain safe.

Plan for transition. All good things must come to an end, including a board member’s tenure, so a plan for turnover needs to be a priority for every leadership team. At any time, new and seasoned board members need to understand oversight of management, budgeting and other key concepts around their service. District leaders must ensure training materials are up-to-date and findable both for incoming and ongoing trustees. Offering materials through the board management solution keeps everything the team needs in one place and makes ongoing training simple.

Employ up-to-date tools. Boards can’t plan for the future with aging media, and today, this includes disorganized technology solutions like legacy document drives or email. Board management software is an all-in-one, built-for-purpose solution that allows boards to collaborate, communicate and complete their work efficiently, with everything they need quickly findable and actionable. By using these tools, boards also model digital leadership for their communities.Diligent regularly reviews and updates Community to ensure it offers the right features for modern boards.

Form smart technology partnerships. No district has every needed IT resource on staff, and many board members come in without advanced technology experience, so choosing the right technology partners can feel a bit like a leap of faith. However, smart partnerships create undeniable benefits and potential cost savings over in-house development or “making do.”

Tips for choosing a board management technology partner

The “leap of faith” school boards take in finding the right technology partners is anything but. By looking at organizations with extensive school experience and when-needed support, school boards can narrow down their options and feel confident in their choice.

Look for built-for-purpose solutions. Many school leaders feel restricted to cobbling together different tools to form a Rube Goldberg system, but by doing this, they miss out on the benefits of a sophisticated single tool that meets all the board’s needs. Diligent Community, for example, offers Policy Publisher, which streamlines the management of the school policy lifecycle from drafting and reviewing to adoption and publishing.

Focus on tools that support transparency. In the last few years, communities and parents have learned to depend on streamed meetings and digital access to school information as well as expecting more from their school district in terms of transparency. Additionally, an increasing number of states are requiring livestreaming of open meetings. For these reasons, boards must offer an available, searchable database of materials, both for the board’s own use and the use of other stakeholders. All of these measures will help build trust and engage your community.

Ensure accessibility for your board members and community. Using a board management solution like Diligent Community helps deliver accessibility for board members to provide them with the materials they need to be better informed, access to be self sufficient and efficiency by being able to access information on the go to prepare for board meetings. Accessibility for the community is about ensuring your website is ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant and that you include things like live closed captions on your public meeting live streams.

Emphasize quality communications with stakeholders. Creating a single source of truth for the board, administration, staff and the community saves time and eliminates confusion. Diligent Community provides a means of standardized communication with the community — including in crisis situations — through a public website offering a single source of truth around key issues and initiatives. By consolidating communication efforts into a single tool, the board frees up administrators and staff for crucial work toward district goals.

Prioritize security. Schools have an enormous amount of sensitive information around students and staff. So every school district needs to prioritize protecting its data. Employ a tool with granular permissions — in which every user has access to just what they need — and look for a board management platform with strong security. Diligent Community is a cloud-based school board management software offering secure servers and 256-bit encryption, ensuring privacy and security for confidential and sensitive data.

Take the next steps into the future

Becoming future-ready can seem overwhelming for boards, but it is achievable with the right technology partner. Moreover, it’s necessary to ensure students are able to thrive in the world that waits for them. By evaluating the elements and benefits of future-readiness — and how technology can help the board achieve it — trustees and administrators can lay the path for student and school success.

At Diligent, we develop solutions to help every district become future-ready. Diligent Community is a board management platform specially designed to streamline governance for public boards and increase their effectiveness. Let us know how we can help your leadership team prepare for what’s ahead.


Your Data Matters

At our core, transparency is key. We prioritize your privacy by providing clear information about your rights and facilitating their exercise. You're in control, with the option to manage your preferences and the extent of information shared with us and our partners.

© 2024 Diligent Corporation. All rights reserved.