Your relationship with the Director of Education is a direct employment relationship that calls for the board to manage this. Since the other staff all report through the Director of Education, your relationship with them is quite different – this is what we call the “grandparent” role. Instead of managing employment arrangements, you are overseeing the Director’s relationships with staff, to gain confidence in the Director’s judgement and dealing with staff. You are not making the employment arrangements decisions, you are monitoring and guiding the Director in that role.
There are a limited number of areas of human resources oversight that are legitimately your (board) responsibilities. Staffing matters outside these are within the Director’s scope.
- Director succession aspect: since the Director is your employee, the board has a legitimate interest in annually review the Director’s management succession plan (for high potential and high performing staff; talent management and development). This may extend to inviting senior managers to presenting to the board and/or Committees, and responding to questions at meetings, to help you “size up” their leadership abilities, and to observe the Director’s development of staff.
- Human Resources (People) Policy oversight aspect: the board / HR Committee reviews, approves and monitors compliance with high level (board level) policies affecting human resources, e.g.:
- Code of Conduct
- CEO Succession Policy
- Harassment Policy
- Emergency Planning Policy
- Communications Protocol
- Ethical oversight aspect: the board reviews relevant reports and information, to gain reasonable assurance of integrity throughout the School Board:
- Overseeing compliance with and enforcement of Code of Conduct
- Other compliance, litigation and regulatory related reports
- Whistle-blowing Policy
- Disclosure aspect: the board reviews or approves public disclosures that include human resources related items:
- Executive Compensation related
- Governance related
- Compliance and litigation related
- Strategic Human Resources (People) oversight aspect: in risk or strategy areas that are significant to the whole School Board entity, the board reviews (but does not approve, this is called a “one-up” check) the Director’s decisions, to gain reasonable confidence (assurance) in:
- Major organizational structure changes and senior management appointments
- Compensation plans: philosophy, design, incentives, payouts
- Human resources risks
- Labour relations, collective bargaining (next topic!)
Collective bargaining responsibilities in School Boards are probably different from any other boards that you have served on before.
Collective bargaining helps define the nature of the relationship between School Divisions and their employees, as well as having major financial consequences. School Boards will be challenged to arrive at agreements that put children first and that both parties can live with.
Boards must make decisions ranging from the values that will direct labour relations, to the role that board members will play in bargaining. Different boards take more or less direct involvement in collective bargaining, so here are some practical tips for you to consider in general:
- Review, debate and approve a mandate for settlement: it is typically a board role to approve a negotiating mandate:
- ensure you are clear on “Must Haves” & “Nice to Haves”
- negotiators can’t work effectively with limited / hidden mandates, so leave some room for movement
- Provide input (not approval) to process:
- If you have enlisted SSBA’s professional negotiators, let them do their job
- Stay out of the process & maintain confidences
- Be available 24/7 to management in the event a shift in mandate is needed at the last moment-
- Perhaps delegate authority to Chair or Committee
Bargaining with Teachers
The Education Act 1995 provides for bi-level bargaining with teachers:
Items negotiated at the provincial level are:
- Salaries of teachers
- Allowances of principals and
- Sick leave
- Superannuation of teachers
- Duration of the provincial agreement
- Group life insurance for teachers
- Criteria for employees being out-of-scope
Items negotiated at the local level by individual school boards are:
- Sabbatical leave for teachers
- Educational leave for teachers
- Salaries for substitute teachers
- Pay periods for teachers
- Special allowances for teachers
- Duration of the local agreement
The Education Act, 1995 prohibits negotiation of the following at both the provincial and local levels:
- Selection of teachers
- Courses of study
- The program of studies
- The professional methods and techniques used by a teacher
Bargaining with Support Staff
Most support staff in School Divisions are unionized, and the task of collective bargaining with those unions can be complex. Bargaining for support staff is provided by The Employment Act which has much different rules.
There is no provincial bargaining for support staff, so the School Board will have to negotiate agreements that cover the full range of terms and conditions of employment including but not limited to the following:
- Hours of work
- Vacancies, transfers and promotions
- Sick leave
- Vacation and public holidays
- Other leaves
- Employee benefits
Employee benefits are an important part of any employer’s compensation package. Benefits help to attract and retain quality employees.
The Saskatchewan School Boards Association offers school system employees a full range of survivor, disability and health benefits. In-service and position-specific training are also available. The products have been customized over the years to fit the special needs of School Boards.