Ring in Your New Year and Your New Board Year with this New Year’s Check List
Ah, January is coming, and like colder weather and seasonal visitors, I normally associate the beginning of the new year with the inevitable return of New Year’s resolutions. Let’s get a jump on the annual chore by resolving to get the first governing board meeting of the new year off to an organized start. I’ve prepared a New Year’s check list that you might like to use to do just that.
January Organizational Meeting Checklist
 Some school boards annually elect a Board president, others only elect a Board president every other year following the election of school board members pursuant to A.R.S. §15-321 (A) and (B): “The governing board shall meet between January 1 and January 15 next following the election…At the organization meeting the governing board shall elect from among the membership of the board a president.”
 Depending on the year/Board preference, elect a president.
 If your Board policy so provides, elect a Clerk of the Board. This position is no longer required by statute, but may be a part of your policy. Similarly, your policy may provide for election of a Vice-President who would need to be elected at this time.
 If necessary, swear in new Board members. It is no longer necessary to have Board members sworn in at least 24 hours before participating in meetings.
 Do your meeting days, meeting times, meeting locations still work for your Board? If not, use this meeting to decide new meeting days, meeting times and meeting locations.
 Revisit where your public notices of your meetings and agendas are posted. Do they still work? If not, use this meeting to decide where they will be posted. The Superintendent or Board secretary need to have the notice and agendas posted on your website and at these locations at least twenty-four (24) hours (excluding Sundays and certain holidays) before a meeting. It is no longer necessary to notify your county Board of Supervisors where these notices and agendas will be posted.
 A.R.S. §15-521 also provides that if your Board chooses, you may pass a resolution allowing signing salary and other expenses between Board meetings: “An order on a county school superintendent for a salary or other expense shall be signed by the governing board. An order for salary or other expense may be signed between board meetings if a resolution to that effect has been passed prior to the signing at a regular or special meeting of the governing board and the order is ratified by the board at the next regular or special meeting of the governing board.” This is a good time to approve that resolution.
 Your Board may wish to determine if it will choose to utilize a hearing officer for student expulsion matters. If so, it may adopt a list of hearing officers at this meeting or direct the Superintendent to provide the Board with a list of hearing officers at a future meeting. Your Board may prefer, instead, to make this decision on a case by case basis as the need arises.
 Your Board may wish to determine whether it will choose to utilize a hearing officer for teacher dismissal hearings. Because the teacher and the administration each propose hearing officers and it is only if they cannot agree on a hearing officer that the Board must select a hearing officer, the Board is not obligated to adopt a list of hearing officers at this meeting. Your Board may prefer, instead, to make the decision as to whether to have a hearing officer or hear the dismissal itself on a case by case basis as the need arises.
 Determine if your Board wants to allow Board members/others to attend the meeting via telephonic conference call or other technological means. If so, and if this process has not been used in the past, the Superintendent may need to be directed to come up with the means to make this happen in a way that will allow the public to continue to hear the off-site board member’s public session discussions and votes and to insure that the minutes accurately reflect the off-site board member’s participation by telephonic or other means.
 Some Boards choose to make on-site visits to schools within the District as part of the duty to “maintain the schools” and “manage and control the school property” (A.R.S. §15-341 (A) (2) and (4); this meeting could be used to select dates for the Board as a whole to tour the District schools.
 Check your District’s Policy DG. Your Board could use the organizational meeting to “designate one (1) or more banks as depository for the safeguarding of District auxiliary and revolving funds.”
 If any of your Board members have a conflict of interest, renew or create the required conflict of interest statement. Note – This is also a good time to send out a reminder to teachers and staff members in case any of them need to create or renew any conflict of interest statements).
 This meeting could also be used as a reminder to set up dates for determining/approving recommendations for class size capacity in regular education classes and in each of the special needs areas as required pursuant to Policy JFB and A.R.S. §15-816 for open enrollment. Some policies also require annual Board determination of class capacity in special education and regular education programs under IHB and related policies and IIB and related policies.
As always, you should contact legal counsel if you have any questions or concerns regarding annual requirements for your District or if you have any questions regarding setting the agenda to meet the requirements of the Arizona Open Meeting Law. This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding New Year’s Check List, or other education law issues, please feel free to contact Education Law Attorney, Candyce B. Pardee at 800.863.6718, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area.
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