School Board Operating Principles

Article I
Name, Purpose, Duties

Section 1. Name

The name of this organization is the St. Mary School Board (hereinafter referred to as the “board”).

Section 2. Purpose

The purpose of this board is to promote and advance the mission of the school for the education and instruction of students in keeping with the principles of the Roman Catholic Church, to secure the finances of the school, and to ensure a course of education as prescribed by the Diocese of Camden and the applicable policies, rules, and regulations of the State of New Jersey.

The board, with limited jurisdiction, is a participatory, policy-making body for all matters pertaining to the school. All decisions of the board shall be binding upon the school administrators and shall be in compliance with canon law, the letter and the intent of the policies, rules, and regulations of the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Camden, the applicable policies, rules, and regulations of the State of New Jersey, and those powers reserved to the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Camden.

For the purposes of these operating principles, we define pastoral leadership as the pastor in the case of a single parish school and the pastor selected by the participating pastors in the case of a regional school (it is important to note that alterations to the physical plant need to be approved by the host pastor in consultation with the parish council and the parish finance council).

Section 3. Duties

The board fosters the highest possible standards of academic and religious education for all students and provides policy direction to the school in these eight (8) distinct areas:

Strategic Planning

The board participates in realizing the Diocesan Vision and the school’s short-range and long-range goals and objectives.

Policy Development

The board develops (in accordance with Diocesan policies) policies which give general direction for administrative action of the school.

Financial Oversight

The board develops plans and means to secure the financial future of the school. This includes creating a five-year financial plan, determining annual development goals, allocating resources according to the budget and monitoring each of the above.

Constituent Relations

The board communicates with various constituents (current parents, graduates, alumni parents, grandparents, and the public at large) on behalf of the school.


The board helps to develop a comprehensive school advancement plan and supports those in the school responsible for its implementation.

Board Development/Evaluation

The board annually determines its own effectiveness in light of the Diocesan Vision and its own mission and responsibilities as outlined in these operating principles.

Principal Selection/Evaluation

Selection of a new school principal begins with the board forming a candidate search committee (as prescribed by the Office of Catholic Schools) which includes representation from the board. The Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools then assists the committee and the pastoral leadership in their search by working with the chairperson of the search committee and the pastoral leadership. In a prayerful context, the search committee makes its consensus recommendation to the pastor of the host parish who in turn employs the principal.

Evaluation of the principal is the joint duty of the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools, the pastoral leadership, the parents, the school board and the faculty.

The board participates in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the principal using the performance appraisal process prescribed by the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Camden. Upon the recommendation of 2/3 majority of the Board and with the consent of the Office of Catholic Schools, the board may recommend removal of the principal to the host pastor.

Personnel Policy

The board supports the Diocesan employment and teacher qualification policy and adheres to compensation guidelines established by the Diocese.

General Policy

Except as otherwise specified in these operating principles, the board does not deal with the following:

Review of administrative decisions
Administrative regulation
Personnel issues that concern students, faculty or staff members
Hiring or firing
School curriculum

Article II
Reserved Powers of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Camden Diocese

The following powers shall be reserved to the Bishop in accordance with the discipline and governance of the Roman Catholic Church, and the execution thereof by this board shall require specific authorization, in writing, by the Bishop or his appointed designee.

A. Catholic identity, Catholicity, and religious education as expressed in the philosophy and mission of the School. This includes changes to the philosophy and mission of the school, including but not limited to those which reflect the Catholicity of the School or affect religious education.

B. Professional review of the school’s effectiveness in providing a high-quality Catholic education and in sustaining continuous progress toward stated objectives (Canon 806; Diocese of Camden – Statute #179).

C. Approval of the operating principles of the board.

D. Approval of the annual budget of the school, as recommended and submitted by the board.

E. Transactions outside of the ordinary course of business (e.g. incurring debt, securing loans, modifying or expanding school facilities, acquisition of property).

F. Appointment of legal counsel or financial auditors for the school.

Article III
Board Membership

Section 1. Number and Composition

Within three years of being established, the board shall consist of no fewer than 15 and no more than 21 voting members (no more than 1/3 of whom can be current parents) nominated by the board membership committee who must then be approved and appointed by the pastoral leadership. All voting members will serve a term of three years and board members are permitted to serve two consecutive terms. Past members may be asked to rejoin the board after a one year hiatus.
The pastoral leadership is an ex officio, voting member of the board. In a regionalized setting, the participating pastors shall annually select one of their members as an ex officio voting member of the board for one year, which shall be renewable. Such selection shall occur no later than May 1 of each year and person so selected shall serve until a successor is selected.
The principal is an ex officio, non-voting member of the board who has the responsibility of implementing board polices and shall have discretionary authority to make administrative decisions.
All board members serve without compensation nor shall they benefit financially from their association with the school or as board members of the school.

The board may invite, as non-voting participants, representatives of various school organizations. A position as a non-voting, ex officio member of the board may be secured for all heads of various school-related organizations (PTA, PTO, Home and School, alumni association). They will serve on the board only for so long as they are an officer or representative of that organization but may then be considered for board membership as an appointed member of the board.

The board should be representative of both the parish and school communities it serves.

Section 2. Appointment, Vacancies, Removal

A. Board members will serve a term of three (3) years, and members are permitted to serve two (2) consecutive terms. NB: the only exception is that the founding or initial members shall serve terms varying from one to three (1 to 3) years, with approximately one-third serving a one-year term, one-third a two-year term, and one-third a three-year term, to be determined by lot or other means.

B. New and renewed appointments to the board shall take place at the meeting closest to May 1 of each year and newly appointed members of the board shall take office at the meeting closest to September 1 of each year, following an orientation and training as prescribed by of the Office of Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Camden.

C. Retiring board members shall leave office at the meeting closest to June 1 of each year.

D. Board members may resign by delivering to the pastoral leadership and the chair of the board a letter indicating his or her intent to resign and the effective date of that resignation.

E. Incomplete terms of board members or terms of board members disqualified shall be filled by individuals recommended by the board membership committee or by the executive committee and submitted to the pastoral leadership for appointment.

F. In the case of a single parish school, the pastor, after prior consultation with the Executive Director of Schools, may remove any board member at any time with or without cause. In the case of a regionalized school, a board member may be removed after prior consultation with the Executive Director of Schools, by a majority vote of the participating pastors at any time with or without cause.

Section 3: Criteria for Membership/Code of Ethics

Members should be 21 or older
Members should have a genuine interest in Catholic school education, the mission of the school and the Diocesan Vision
Members should have an ability to work with others
Members should maintain high levels of integrity and confidentiality
Members should be objective and free of self-interest
Members should actively and generously support with all available, personal resources the programs and operations of the school
Members should support board decisions even if they do not fully agree with them
Members should not be salaried employees of the parish(s) or school
Members should have the ability to understand and accept the parameters of the board as directed by the board’s operating principles
Members should have the capacity to give witness to Catholic moral values
Members should maintain regular attendance at board meetings. Any board member absent from two (2) regular meetings of the board during one (1) year (July 1 to June 30) shall, unless excused by action of the board, cease to be a member.
Members should abide by the operating principles and policies of the board and the Diocese of Camden.
Members should deliberate on all matters before the board in good faith and for the common good of the community of the school, the Diocese of Camden, and the Roman Catholic Church.
Article IV

Section 1. Creation of Officers

The officers of the board shall include a chair, a vice chair and a secretary elected by the board from among the voting members of the board.

Section 2. Selection, Tenure, Vacancies, Removal

The voting members of the board, through the process of prayerful discernment, shall select the Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary at the meeting closest to June 1 of each year.
Officers shall hold offices until the next annual election and thereafter until their successors are duly selected.

Section 3. Duties of the officers

A. The chair presides at all regular and special meetings of the board; appoints all committees unless otherwise specified by the board; and in general, performs all duties incident to the office of the chair and such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to him/her by the board.

B. The vice chair shall be an aide to the chair, and in case of the absence or disability of the chair, shall assume and perform the duties of the chair.

C. The secretary shall keep board meeting minutes; submit a copy of the minutes within a reasonable time to the principal and board chair for editing and mailing; see that all notices are fully given in accordance with these operating principles; be custodian of the records of the board and provide the principal and participating pastors with copies of same for the school office or archives; and, in general, perform all duties incident to the office of board secretary and such other duties as from time to time the chair may assign. In the absence of the chair and vice chair, the secretary shall chair board meetings.

D. Individual Members: The board shall not be bound by any statement or action on the part of any individual member(s) of the board except when such statement or action is in pursuance of specific instruction of the board.

Article V

Section 1. Regular, Special and Annual Meetings

The board shall meet at least four (4) times per year (July 1 to June 30) with dates determined by the board in its first meeting. The schedule for and location of these meetings will be set and publicized for the year (July 1 to June 30).
The pastoral leadership, the chair or a majority of board members may call for special meetings when needed. If time permits, the board will give usual notice of special meetings 24 hours in advance stating the nature of the meeting, the time and the place.
The board meeting on or closest to June 1 shall be designated as the annual meeting with its major topics being election of officers and nomination of new members for the next year.

Section 2: Quorum

A. For the purpose of transacting official business, it shall be necessary that a simple majority of the total-voting members be present and voting. “Voting members” of the board shall mean the selected and appointed members, as defined in Article III.

B. A simple majority of those present and voting shall carry the motion, decision, or election unless otherwise specified in these operating principles.

C. It is expected that the pastoral leadership and the host pastor will support the decisions of the board unless they are contrary to the mission of the parish and the policies and procedures of the Diocese of Camden.

D. In the event of a dispute, in the area of the board’s responsibility, between the majority of the board, represented by a 2/3 vote, and the pastoral leadership or host pastor, conciliation may be attempted through mediation and resolved in accord with Canon Law and carried out in a timely manner (the dispute resolution process is detailed in Addendum 1).

Section 3: Rules of Procedure

The board shall decide matters through a process of consensus and except as otherwise provided by these Operating Principles, the current version of “Robert’s Rules of Order” shall apply to all procedural matters before the board.

Section 4. Order of Business

All meetings of the board are to be closed meetings unless designated as being open.
Each board member shall receive notice and a copy of the agenda and supporting materials at least seven (7) days prior to the regularly scheduled meeting.
Anyone wishing to place on the agenda an item for consideration by the board must notify the Secretary at least ten (10) days prior to the scheduled meeting.
The suggested length of board meetings is no more than two hours.

Sample Agenda Format:

1) Call to order and opening prayer

2) Recommended Actions
a) Routine matters
i) Approval of minutes
ii) Acceptance of agenda
b) Old business
c) New business

3) Information/Communications/Reports
a) Official delegations
b) Non-staff communications and reports

c) Committee reports
d) Principal
e) Board Members

4) Future business
a) Meeting dates
b) Preview of topics for future agendas
c) General discussion to guide future recommendations

5) Adjournment and closing prayer
6) Executive session (if held)

Section 6. Visitors

Meetings of the board shall be closed; however, the board reserves the right to declare open sessions.
The right of non-members to address the board shall be limited to those whose petition has been approved by the principal and chair for inclusion on the agenda at least ten days in advance of the meeting.

Section 7. Archives

A written record of all acts of the board, maintained by the secretary, shall be preserved in the school archives.

Article VI
Standing Committees

Executive Committee is comprised of the officers of the board, the principal, and the pastoral leadership and covers emergency situations in which it is impossible or inappropriate to assemble the full board. This committee meets only when called by consensus of the officers of the board. In addition, the Executive Committee reviews board decisions in light of the school’s Catholic identity and mission.

Board Membership Committee

· Coordinates the identification, cultivation, recruitment and orientation of new board members
· Re-nominates sitting board members
· Maintains data on board demography
· Facilitates board self-assessment
· Identifies board need for education and training and designs vehicles to meet these needs

Advancement Committee

· Works in conjunction with the school’s advancement director to coordinate the school’s fundraising activities
· Advises the board on annual fund financial goals and on any capital or major gift efforts
· Reviews the case statement for all fundraising campaigns
· Participates (including all board members and volunteers) in all fundraising and friend raising activities
· Reviews admissions policies, marketing literature, the admissions calendar and strategies for recruiting students and doing ongoing cultivation for their families
· Encourages and oversees school communications plans
· May oversee financial aid policies
· The committee does not play any role in admitting students or awarding financial aid

Educational Policy and Programs Committee

· Assesses overall school performance against the school’s strategic plan
· Promotes the school’s academic program and ensures that the program responds to the needs of the school community
· The committee does not set curriculum or evaluate teachers

Facilities Committee

· In conjunction with the host pastor and host parish, finance council, develops the master plan for the school’s buildings and grounds
· Monitors implementation of the plan
· Reports periodically to the board on major plant and campus issues
· Keeps the board finance committee and the host parish finance council informed of building and grounds needs
· The committee does not get involved in day-to-day operations like roof leaks, field maintenance, carpet selection, etc. but should be attentive to deferred maintenance needs

Finance Committee

· Develops annual and five-year operating budgets in consultation with principal
· If applicable, annually, submits the proposed budget to the regional pastors for approval
· Monitors revenue and expense through monthly statements prepared by the school and reports results to the board
· Reviews any and all capital expenditure recommendations prepared by the Facilities Committee.

The board may, by majority vote, establish additional ad hoc committees to deal with particular issues (strategic planning, for example). The board may discontinue such committees at its pleasure and dismiss them with thanks at the completion of the appointed task.

Sample Ad Hoc Committees

Financial Aid

· Works with school staff to develop policies concerning the eligibility and administration of financial aid
· Recommends policies to the board
· Recommends through the budget process, the percentage of the budget allocated to financial aid
· The committee does not decide who gets aid or how much aid will be awarded

Strategic Plan

· Works with pastoral leadership, principal and staff to develop the strategic plan for board approval
· Monitors the plan’s implementation

Student Life

· Works with the pastoral leadership and principal to develop and implement opportunities for board members and students to interact

Although the standing committees of the board are chaired and staffed by voting members of the board, the board may invite non-members who bring knowledge or experience to join the committees. They may or may not be voting members of the committees at the discretion of the board.

Article VII
Role of the Principal

The principal is the educational leader of the school and as such, he/she provides educational direction to the board and serves as the link between the board, the school and its faculty, the students and their parents.

The board chair, in consultation with principal, creates meeting agendas that carefully distinguish the difference among items that are meant to be for information, discussion, advice or action.

The principal keeps the board informed about the operation of the school and its curricular and co-curricular needs and about Diocesan process and procedure.

Article VIII
Pastoral Leadership

The pastoral leadership plays an important role on the school board in that he shares a collegial relationship with board members while serving as their spiritual leader.

As the spiritual leader, he shares the pastoral vision and offers other spiritual insights that will enrich and improve the quality of the board’s deliberations.

Promotes the Catholic life of the school community and board as a spiritual leader and pastoral minister whose interaction with the community underscores gospel values; he sometimes presides at Eucharist and is always involved in liturgical planning

Is available for dialogue, consultation and input with the principal, board chair and board members in matters regarding the school and its mission

Is present to the school community at significant educational, board initiated and family events

Article IX

These operating principles may be amended, supplemented or repealed in whole or in part at anytime by a two-thirds vote of all voting members of the board and subject to the approval of pastoral leadership, the Executive Director of Schools and the Vicar General.

Amendments to these operating principles must be presented to the board in writing at least two weeks prior to one meeting for discussion and voted on at a subsequent meeting.

Article X

These operating principles shall become effective upon the approval of the Executive Director of Schools and the Vicar General and promulgation by the Bishop.

Article XI
Conflict of Interest

Any member of the board who has an interest in, or has a member of his or her household or an immediate family member who has an interest in, a contract or other transaction presented to the board or a committee shall make prompt and full disclosure of such interest to the board prior to any discussion of or action on such contract or transaction.

The board (excluding the potentially interested member) shall thereupon determine by majority vote, whether a conflict of interest exists.

If a conflict is deemed to exist, such person shall not vote on, exert influence over or participate in any of the deliberations with respect to such contract. Such person may be requested to be absent from board discussion about the contract or transaction.

For the purposes of this section, a person shall be deemed to have an interest in a contract or transaction if he or she is one of the parties contracting or dealing with the school; if he or she is a director, partner or officer of, or has significant financial or other interest in, the entity contracting or dealing with the school; or if one of his or her family members or a member of his or her household is in such a position.

Paid employees of the school are not eligible for board membership. Spouses of paid employees may serve by consensus vote of the board.

Article XII
Indemnification of Personal Liability

Each board member and officer of the board, now or later serving, is indemnified by the board against any and all claims and liabilities to which he or she has or will become subject to by reason of having served as a board member or officer or by reason of any action alleged to have been taken, omitted, or neglected by him or her as board member of officer. The board will also reimburse each such person for all legal expenses reasonably incurred by him or her in connection with any such claim or liability. However, no board member or officer shall be indemnified against or reimbursed for any expense incurred in connection with any claim or liability arising out of his or her own willful and/or criminal misconduct or gross negligence. The right of indemnification provided herein will not be exclusive to any other rights that law may entitle to any board member or officer.

Addendum 1
Dispute Resolution Process

The purpose of this dispute resolution process is to provide the parties with a procedure to resolve disagreements arising from the implementation of the school governance operating principles. The process is as follows:

Step #1 – Initiation of Dispute Resolution Process

1. A request for mediation shall be made in writing by the board chair to the Executive Director of Catholic Schools. The mediation request shall specify the date of the request and the issue(s) in dispute.

Step #2 – Preliminary Mediation Conference

1. A preliminary mediation conference shall be conducted within five school days after receipt of the written request. The board chair, pastor and Executive Director of Schools (at a minimum) will meet at which time:
A. Issues shall be determined
B. Clarifications provided related to the Operating Principles
C. Options will be discussed.

2. The conference shall be informal and held at a place reasonably convenient to the parties in dispute. If the meeting results in agreement, the issue can be brought to the board for a vote and recorded in the minutes. If the meeting does not result in agreement, the next step is to select a mutually agreed upon mediator.

Step #3 – Mediation
1. The Executive Director of Catholic Schools shall offer the board a panel of three to five volunteer professional mediators who have been vetted for a strong commitment to Catholic social teaching as a basis for their interest.

2. At the next board meeting a general introduction to the process of mediation will be explained and the issues will be discussed according to the process.

3. Upon resolution, the agreement becomes part of the minutes of the meeting. If an agreement is not reached, the mediator identifies the unresolved issues. The entire board present verifies the issues with their signature and the chair person will forward them to the Bishop. The Bishop or one of his Vicars General will meet with the board for final resolution.