Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Steps

We’ve had a rush of excitement at Akiba and Yavneh with the announcement of the Avi Chai grant. Both school boards unanimously passed resolutions that committed our schools to a process of cooperation and resource sharing. In order to facilitate this, we’ve been assembling a team of great minds, business people and community leaders to help guide us through this transition.

In several brainstorming sessions, various minds have defined the qualities we need in a task force chair, and its members. Should the person be vested in both schools? Should he or she be Jewish? Should he or she be a recognized leader in the community? After thoughtful deliberation we concluded that the chair would have the following responsibilities:

  • Lead selection of committee members
  • Organizing and managing the committee, calling meetings as appropriate and in a timely manner
  • Direct communication with the board, community, school staff and other stakeholders.
  • Delivering the benchmarks specified within the Avi Chai Grant. These include:
  1. Negotiating, engaging and managing the organizational consultant
  2. Reviewing, evaluating and presenting to both school Boards the consultant recommendations for a shared organizational structure that maximizes operational synergies and improves overall performance.
  3. Delivering the implementation of a new school management software
  4. Approve new job descriptions, manage search process to staff those positions as needed

Our first choice for the chair of the task force was a successful retired corporate executive who is not directly associated with the schools but is deeply committed to Jewish education. He was unable to commit to this task because of his already saturated schedule, but will participate in a less-demanding role. After doubling our search efforts, we took a tried-and-true play from the business playbook and promoted from within – giving already established leaders in our community an opportunity to participate. As a result we chose Jaynie Schultz, who has vast community experience to keep the group organized.

Since that decision Jaynie has organized a group of business leaders with massive organizational experience and no direct ties to the schools to have a one-time meeting to craft a “straw man” organizational structure and identify key cultural issues the task force and schools should anticipate. Once our full time consultant is engaged and presents their recommendations, we will take advantage of the business-culture insights of these leaders and merge NBOA’s. Additionally the task force as originally conceived is nearly complete and will include three people directly associated with the schools and two with broader perspectives.