Quail's Eye View

September 30

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Message from the Board

Dear PPCS Families --

I’m writing with another installment of the Quail’s Eye View, which seeks to demystify PPCS’s Board of Directors and our work. I hope you are all doing OK despite the continued challenges we are all facing.

On Monday night at our monthly board meeting the PPCS Board voted to include 3rd grade in the group that is prioritized for in-person learning. We considered the developmental needs of this age group, the school’s on-site staffing needs, and the endorsement of the classroom teacher. Now that the board has authorized this change to our Remote Yet Connected plan, Ms. Branen and her team are surveying families and ironing out the operational details of how it will work in practice to bring small pods of third graders into the building while complying with our safety plan.

As you know, the Board decided to continue our Remote Yet Connected plan until winter break and will continue to offer remote learning through the semester. In that plan, students who are prioritized for in-person learning and child care do so under the strict safety guidelines we established. So this change does not modify our plan in any way except by expanding the way our priority in-person student group is defined. We knew that we would learn a lot in our first few weeks of school and make adjustments accordingly.

To understand how our various roles in this decision play out, it’s helpful to know more about the role and responsibilities of a Charter School Board. On Monday, the board participated in a Governance training offered through the Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA) which supports public and charter school boards to do good and ethical work.

Governance can be summed up through the joke that our trainer told at the start of the retreat:

Question: How many Charter School board members does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Answer: None. The board’s role is to say: “let there be light.” It is the Director’s job to figure out how to make that happen.

Ok, the joke isn’t that funny, but the point is a good one: the Board determines the end result (often in the form of a plan or policy) and the staff -- led by Ms. Branen -- figures out the operational details. We are also responsible for assessing how well the school is doing, in terms of student learning, financial health, and other factors.

The other important thing to know about the board is that we only operate as a unit. A single board member has no authority. Only together can we make decisions and have influence. Each board member comes to the table prioritizing the interests of the whole school. This requires us to take off our parent and friend hats when we sit down at the board table, because sometimes we need to make decisions that we know are not going to please everyone - and might not even align with our individual preferences.

The board tries hard to remain as impartial as we can. We might politely deflect questions about our personal perspective or decline to hear more about the challenge you are having with a classroom teacher. We will recommend that you bring the issue to your child’s teacher first, then Ms. Branen if you need additional assistance. If you want to communicate something about a school-wide decision, we will direct you to send a public comment to the board. That way, we stay out of operations and make sure that all board members have the same information. As opinionated people who care deeply about PPCS, it can be hard for us to stay out of these conversations -- but we try so that we can do the best job in our role! Take a look at the ISBA’s Code of Ethics for Board Members for additional insight.

Please let me know other questions that you’d like me to address from the Quail’s Eye View by emailing me at jbearman@palouseprairieschool.org. The next scheduled meeting of the PPCS Board of Directors is October 26 at 6:00 pm. Public comment can be sent to me at any time for board consideration.

Sincerely yours,


Jessica Bearman

PPCS Board Chair