The Scope of School Board Oversight of Risk Management

Lena Eisenstein
5 min read
School districts are faced with a variety of risks today; some risks have only recently presented themselves as issues for school districts within the past few decades. School boards are constantly challenged on how to best strategize to protect their district from various risks. Board oversight of risk management is imperative to safeguarding the district and its assets.

What is risk management?

Risk management is the organized effort to safeguard a district's assets, human and financial, from different types of risk.

Risks may be associated with personnel or students or are possibly related to property or liability. Identifying risks firsts helps in effectively analyzing these risks and developing strategies to tackle the risks through financing, policies, or procedures.

Identifying the risks of the district is a very time consuming process. But, thoroughly identifying these risks is the only way to effectively understand and reduce them. The mission for the school district is not to completely eliminate every risk, but to understand these risks and to work through the district's operations to mitigate and manage them.

The first steps of board oversight of risk management

The first step for board oversight of risk management is the identification of the various risks in which the district might be exposed and the breakdown of those risks by how frequent they may occur or severe they may be.

The next step of board oversight of risk management is seeking ways to reduce these potential risks through preventative plans of actions. The board then works to decide how to finance risk management strategies for the district.

Board oversight of risk management is not simply having insurance in preparation for litigation or another issue. Risk management requires serious planning, preparation, and continuous work to maintain the mitigation of these risks.

BoardDocs, a Diligent brand, offers board management software that enables school boards to share policies, procedures, and other materials related to risk management for the district. Financial information regarding the prioritization of risk management plans can also be secured in the platform, where the administrator can customize access so only board members and administrators may view the documents.

Board oversight of risk management at work

Board risk oversight of risk management means that the school board or risk oversight committee may place risk management as a topic of discussion on board meeting agendas. When the school board prioritizes risk management, then the board performs a vital responsibility to protect the welfare and assets of the district.

When school boards make risk management a topic of discussion on meeting agendas, the board demonstrates for the district and community that risk management is everyone's responsibility. This shows that board oversight of risk management is a priority and taken seriously.

BoardDocs allows for school boards to easily generate board meeting agendas. Any documents or materials relating to a specific agenda item, like risk management, can be directly linked to the meeting agenda. Meeting agendas and related materials can then easily be accessed by board members, administrators, and the public.

Board oversight of risk management includes the need for detailed information regarding risks, like the type of risk, the frequency the risk could occur, and the severity of the risk. This assists the board in making financial plans in the work to mitigate risks for the district.

The detailed work of examining school facilities or other issues to analyze potential risks does not fall directly to school board members. To fulfill most of these specific and time consuming responsibilities, school boards may decide to fund a district-wide risk manager or risk management department to delegate these responsibilities. However, even if the district has a dedicated risk manager, he or she should still rely on the assistance fellow staff members (financial, personnel, maintenance, etc.) to effectively manage the district's everyday risks.

In smaller districts, it may not be feasible for the board to finance a risk manager, and responsibilities may fall to the Superintendent and other administrators (personnel and financial administrators, for example). The staff who oversees risk management may then generate reports and analyses that may make its way to the board for review and action plans, if necessary.

Let's say there is a major facility issue that poses a risk to the district and students. Board management software with a goal-tracking feature can be utilized by the school board and administrators to ensure that improvements are underway and progress is being made to mitigate risks.

A measurable matrix can be established that will let you know a percentage regarding the completion rate of the goal. The matrix should describe what it looks like for the goal to be 100% complete, and the board and administrators can break that down by varying percentages and the number of action items that need to be taken for the goal to be completed.

Through goal-tracking software, board members should have the ability to actively track goal progress with related dates to know when the goal began and when tasks/actions are completed. Goal-tracking in BoardDocs not only provides this active tracking, but also shows dates for reports given regarding the goal or dates for completed action items.

These goals can also be attached to meeting agendas. Once again, administrators and the board can easily select what pertinent information or documents should be linked to share for various levels of security. This feature can be incredibly helpful in working on risk management within the district.

No matter who works to analyze and mitigate risks for the district, it is important to remember the reason why risk management is vital to the district ' so that students may be educated in a safe manner.

Board oversight of risk management is a proactive process, not just a reaction to various issues or incidents. Furthermore, board oversight of risk management should be constant. This can help develop a culture of continuously considering risks and mitigation.

To create an environment conducive to student success, board oversight of risk management is vital. Tools like BoardDocs equip school districts to successfully analyze and mitigate risks to better support the district, its staff and students.