An advisory board is a group of volunteers who come together in an official capacity to advise the board or executive staff of an organization. Many schools and districts use advisory boards both as a way to hear from the community about the direction of the organization and its schools, while also keeping alumni and other supporters engaged and involved.
Unlike a school board, an advisory board does not have any legal responsibility or authority to make decisions. They are, as the name implies, merely there to give advice regarding decisions. In many cases, those suggestions are incorporated into administrative or school board actions.
Sometimes, organizations give the advisory board a different name to more clearly articulate the difference between it and the school board. They are often known as an “advisory committee” or “community task force.”
Starting the development of an advisory board
Forming an advisory board takes more than reaching out to your ideal members. You must also clearly specify how the board will operate. You should have a written description of the board that includes information like its purpose, the frequency of meetings, guidelines for membership and general expectations.
Once you have completed these initial organizational tasks, you should ask the following questions:
Who will lead the board? Your district may choose to appoint a chair of the board to manage its operations. Many districts appoint a community leader or a well-known alumnus to lead the way.
How can we make this board effective? Consider what you can do as a district to get the most value out of your advisory board. Think about the purpose of the board and ensure it has a clearly articulated vision. Regularly honor and recognize the work board members perform. Assign district personnel to regularly attend the advisory board meetings and report back with updates.
How will meetings proceed? There should be clear expectations for how meetings of the board will proceed, along with the kinds of rules and professionalism expected to be exhibited at advisory board meetings.
Your school district likely has many alumni who care about the direction of your schools and wish to give back to them in some way. The formation of an alumni advisory board can be an excellent way to keep them plugged in while getting valuable advice and insights that can influence the direction of your school district.