The governance structure is illustrated in the flowchart below. Notice that some arrows indicate lines of authority and others indicate advisory functions. On the following pages are descriptive highlights of the relationships between entities of interest and local conference superintendents.
The organizational structure, governance roles, and leadership responsibilities of the entities below are recorded in the NAD Working Policy (sections: FEA, FEB, FEC, and FED). This information is usually replicated in the union Education Code, along with policies and guidelines that integrate appropriate state/provincial laws and regulations applicable to Adventist schools in the union territory.
For each organizational entity a “sample” list of roles and responsibilities follows:
The board of education is the body granted delegated authority by the local conference executive committee to oversee the K-12 school. The conference holds legal status as the owner of all schools within the conference and is the employer of all school personnel. The superintendent is the primary advisor to the board, serves as the executive secretary of the board, and is the spokesperson of the board to the conference educators and constituents. Board membership should be identified in the conference constitution and bylaws. The superintendent should exercise influence in making membership recommendations, where appropriate.
A complete description of the functions of the conference board of education is in the union Education Code. Boards of education are empowered to:
The local conference office of education is the administrative entity for the conference K-12 school system. It is the assignment of the educational personnel in this office to operate the educational program within the structure authorized by the conference executive committee and based on the policies, programs, and practices contained in the union Education Code and applicable NAD Working Policy.
The local conference office/department of education provides leadership and supervision through the superintendent of schools, associate and/or assistant superintendent(s), and administrative support staff. The superintendent is the chief executive officer of the conference school system with a wide array of responsibilities in many areas including:
Within each of these areas are vital functions and practices to be accomplished regularly and consistently to ensure that Adventist schools are on a “journey to excellence.” For a full listing of the comprehensive responsibilities of the local conference office of education, please consult your union Education Code.
The school constituency consists of the local church or churches that have joined together to operate the Adventist school together with conference representatives. The school constitution should set the requirements for meetings of the constituency, including the criteria for voting members, which are representative of the members of the constituent church(es), the local conference, and, possibly, the union conference.
The functions of the school constituency are to:
Each school is to have a local school board to act on behalf of the constituency to oversee regular school operations. School boards are typically empowered to:
Members and officers of the school board shall be elected as specified by the school constitution. The principal is to be the executive secretary and act as agent and representative of the board. In addition, the school board is to identify conference officers, the superintendent, and the union director of education as ex officio voting board members. The conference superintendent and/or associates should regularly attend a reasonable number of board meetings each year at each school.
The school board is responsible for ensuring that the local school operates in accordance with the policies and guidelines found in the union Education Code, policies adopted by the conference board specific to that conference, the provisions of the school constitution, and other policies previously adopted by the local school board.
The superintendent plays a vital consultative role by providing information and responding to questions on current policy, best practices, and effective programs. Since the superintendent is the agent of the conference board of education, the employer of all educational personnel, no board personnel function should occur without conference office of education representation.
Each school is to have a principal who is the organization’s leader. The administrative services provided by the principal vary based on the type and size of the local school. In all cases the principal is the chief administrator. The importance of this position is highlighted in the NAD Handbook for Principals. This publication includes roles, responsibilities, best practices for school leaders, and helpful tips for successful school administration.
Among the principal’s administrative functions are responsibilities to:
Orientation and training for board members and chairpersons should be organized and facilitated by the superintendent on a regular basis. Members’ understanding of the role and function of the board and best practices for meetings and board member ethics are essential for effective board outcomes.
It is particularly important to help board members understand the difference between governance and administration to minimize misunderstandings and potential conflicts between the board and administrator. When the board acts to set the purpose and policies that will meet the current realities, fund the desired results, and establish accountability processes, they have fulfilled their responsibility to govern.