Recommitting to the standard operating procedures, the board of trustees’ guidelines to conduct business throughout a school district, was a hot topic at the Sherman Independent School District board meeting Monday evening.

Recommitting to the standard operating procedures, the board of trustees’ guidelines to conduct business throughout a school district, was a hot topic at the Sherman Independent School District board meeting Monday evening.


Some board members thought recommitting would send a positive message to potential superintendent candidates while others considered it unnecessary, causing a split vote.


Board members Kate Whitfield, Brad Morgan and Juston Dobbs voted to recommit to the SOP while Kiki Osterman, Rob Wilson and Lynn Mitchusson voted not to recommit. Board President Tim Millerick abstained from the voting because he said he thought recommitting to the SOP was "unnecessary and redundant to the operation of the school board."


The recommitment was listed as an action item on the agenda after one of the new board members asked to discuss and renew awareness of the existing guidelines, Millerick said.


"We brought it and we asked if there were questions to clarify or anything to highlight," Millerick said. "At the time, there was a request to recommit last month. I commented that we really didn’t need to do that because it’s already the SOP."


Ethics, communication, board meetings and board development are some of the most common components in an SOP.


When the agenda item came up during the meeting, Osterman suggested deferring the action item until August in case a board member wanted to offer any changes to the SOP before starting the academic year. In response, Whitfield said she would like to recommit to the SOP before starting the superintendent search.


"I think it’s an important thing to do as we’re about to be looking for a new superintendent to give a good message to the potential candidates that we are a district that follows our own rules and specifically recognizes that our roles as board members is to support the superintendent and allow them to run the day-to-day management for the district," Whitfield said.


According to the Texas Association of School Boards, clearly defining and respecting the differences between the roles of the board and superintendent are crucial to avoiding misunderstandings, inefficiency, and conflict. TASB says the superintendent is responsible for managing the district by ensuring plans and procedures are monitored and adjusted as necessary, while the board is responsible for overseeing the superintendent and holding him or her accountable.


"I think it’s a good step to show whoever we’re going to hire and whatever action we take is in good faith," Morgan said. "My thought on it is: We’re about to enter into a new search, and we’re putting ourselves out there to find the best guy we can find."


Both sides on the issue expressed their concerns for or against recommitting to the SOP. Osterman said she believes it isn’t necessary to vote to commit to the standard operating procedures, while Mitchusson said he thought it might send a message that they weren’t following them to start with.


Whitfield had the strongest voice of the board members in favor of recommitting to the SOP. More than once, Millerick cut Whitfield off as she tried to make other board members understand her point of view. Millerick said she had shared her thoughts more than once and it was understood.


"What you saw was mixed feelings as to whether we need to keep bringing it up again and again," Millerick said. "I think our votes represent where we all stand."