The importance of attending conference
Building your board leadership skills is well worth the time and money. Help others understand why.
The most important part of attending WSSDA’s Annual Conference is the valuable information you take home to your community. The ideas and strategies you learn through sessions, workshops, speakers and exhibitors can be implemented back home in your own district.
Show your community how this conference benefits the children of your public schools. It is your responsibility as a school director to promote the understanding that public money will go farther if board members are well informed. Decisions you make about school policy, personnel, finance, curriculum and communications have significant impact. Mistakes cost time and dollars—resources your district cannot afford to waste.
You can help the public and news media understand why participation in board member development programs is essential, how the school district benefits from what is learned, and why attendance at these programs is not only legitimate, but also a sound investment for the district. You take your responsibilities as school a board member seriously, so let your community know.
The following procedures and communications practices can strengthen your relationship with the community and news media:
Before the conference
- Make a public announcement at a board meeting that representatives from your district will attend. Indicate who will attend and the purpose and value of their participation. Prepare a press release to coincide with this public announcement. Incorporate basic information about the program and your district participation.
- Answer factually and promptly any inquiries about the upcoming conference. All inquiries should be directed for response to one official spokesperson — usually the board president or superintendent.
- Review the meeting program and determine which sessions, discussions and activities will directly benefit your district. Prepare to explain your choices.
- Designate an attending representative to prepare a verbal or written summary report to the entire board following the conference.
During the conference
- List specific questions you want answered during the sessions. If the speakers don’t satisfy your needs, ask questions during or after the presentation. Take notes on each session.
- Collect material to share with board members and administrators who did not attend, including available presentations that have relevance to your school district, literature from exhibits on applicable education products and services, and other materials such as reports, studies, or reprints. (Many of these documents will be available on this site under “Presentation Materials.”).
- Get acquainted and talk informally with other attendees during breaks, receptions, and other social events. You can gain a great deal by networking with colleagues from districts confronting the same challenges that you face.
After the conference
- Prepare a news release for distribution as soon as possible after your return. It should include the success of the conference, its overall value to your school district and local community, local school district representatives who attended, and the education topics discussed. Include quotes from your attendees on how the conference related to your school board’s programs and goals.
- At a board meeting, share the highlights of the report and your own observations and impressions. If you discovered your district is more successful than others in a given area of activity, point this out and compliment the staff and board.
- Be available to respond to media inquiries, interview requests and other matters relating to the conference. Be prepared, informed, and direct in your response.
- Explain the benefits and return on investment for conference participation. School governance is a huge and complex responsibility. Training school board members to be effective leaders and decision makers is an educational investment that benefits the entire community.
- Be positive and well-informed about the conference programming and its importance to your local school district. School board members, chosen by the community to set policy for a complex school system, must have access to the best and most current information if they are to serve the students and community effectively.