Three hours were not enough to cover all of the issues Olentangy school board members hoped to address in a July 22 work session.

Three hours were not enough to cover all of the issues Olentangy school board members hoped to address in a July 22 work session.

"I don't think we covered all the issues I would have liked," said board member Julie Wagner Feasel, "but it was a good start."

Some of the issues were put on hold or "parked" for a later discussion.

Carolyn McKanders, a consultant based in Belleville, Mich., and co-director of the Center for Adaptive Schools, facilitated the meeting.

"I am the one that choreographs the dialogue," she said.

She told the board members early in the meeting they were to repeat out loud each other's remarks, so everyone at the table had a clear understanding of what was being said.

Misunderstandings occur because people do not understand what the other person said, according to McKanders.

She emphasized inclusion, being respectful of one another, listening and getting everyone's voice heard in a neutral way.

Board members worked on issues in pairs before speaking publically.

"So that you learn to create synergy with each other, listen and then come to a consensus together," she said.

Because there are five board members, Irene Bandy-Hedden, who in 2004 helped the board members rewrite polices for the district based on the John and Miriam Mayhew Carver model, served as the sixth person in order for pairing to work.

Bandy-Hedden teamed up with Teri Meider, Julie Wagner Feasel paired up with Jennifer Smith, and Dimon McFerson and Scott Galloway put their heads together.

In the last hour of the meeting, McFerson suggested switching partners.

"I thought that was the whole point," he said, referring to working together.

Passage of an operating and bond issue, new board members, the resignation of Superintendent Scott Davis and the continued search for his successor made a work session necessary, according to a statement made by Galloway prior to the meeting.

The goal of the work session was to focus on collaboration and cooperation in accomplishing the district's mission "to facilitate maximum learning for every student."

Seconds, even minutes, passed as the board members worked silently as individuals or pairs to form statements or questions.

During the workshop, the members spent a lot of time having McKanders and Bandy-Hedden help them distinguish between the board and superintendent roles.

A superintendent was likened to a chief executive officer (CEO) of a corporation.

Under the Carver model, Bandy-Hedden said, the board's No. 1 responsibility is to hire a superintendent who agrees with the vision of the district.

The board sets policy, goals and limitations, while the superintendent sees to it that the goals are carried out.

"Trust becomes very, very important," she said.

Bandy-Hedden cautioned the board against micromanaging.

Galloway said, "We're in charge of putting up the guardrails and the superintendent is in charge of driving, as long as they are inside those guardrails."

Issues raised by the board should be placed on the table, according to Bandy-Hedden and McKanders, and once individual members have a chance to convince everyone else their ideas are best, then the board votes and it becomes policy.

When the door opens after discussions, Bandy-Hedden said, the board has one voice.

"This is probably one of the toughest of the principles," she said.

Wagner Feasel pointed out that unless they are discussing hiring, firing or the purchase of land that all of their discussions are done in public.

Bandy-Hedden said there should be only one spokesperson for the board.

"So what is the best way to handle the media?" asked Wagner Feasel.

The media, according to Bandy-Hedden, should know the spokesperson for the group.

The board president also should distinguish which role he is playing by turning the facilitation of a meeting over to the vice president when voicing his views.

McKanders suggested that once the idea is on the table, the person proposing it steps back because it then belongs to the group.

As a result, when other members begin poking and prodding, they are challenging an idea or issue rather than a person.

Meider said when she served as board president, if two members wanted an issue to appear as an agenda item, it was considered a consensus and put on the agenda.

Smith asked McKanders and Bandy-Hedden to provide insight about what the Carver model said on the issue and if a majority could shut down a minority. In reading about the Carvel model on the Internet, Smith said, she thought everyone could have input.

Bandy-Hedden said if the board determines that it takes two people to have a consensus that would be the answer, because the Carver model does not put a number on it.

The issue was "parked" for later discussion.

McFerson and Smith failed to agree on whether the mission and vision of the district and the board are the same thing.

McKanders had to remind McFerson and Smith to paraphrase.

"I don't know that I can," McFerson said.

Smith tried to explain that she believes the goals are not exactly the same.

"We have two distinct roles and responsibilities as a board and as a district," she said.

"I disagree with that," said McFerson. "I believe, this may be the crux of our meeting tonight, is that I believe our job as a school board is to carry out through our oversight responsibilities the achievement of what we have adopted as a continuous improvement plan through this district. We do that through our superintendent and the administration."

When McKanders asked Smith if she agreed, the board member said no.

"All of our ships have to set sail in the same direction or we don't have a fleet," Galloway said.