North Dakota uses Federal Funds to Create School Board Leadership Institute

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is using $500,000 of its federal relief funds to establish the Be Legendary School Board Institute. The funds pay 50% of the costs for participating school boards to take part in a two-day institute that focuses on learning the mindset of an effective school board member. Among other things, participants learn about setting student outcome goals aligned to the state’s existing goals for student success, with a specific focus on using these student-focused goals as north stars for everything the school board does.

Following the institute, school board members benefit from two years of ongoing coaching, which helps them adopt and stay focused on appropriate progress measures aligned to their overarching goals. The focus of the Be Legendary School Board Institute and the implementation of the program’s framework is to align the behavior of board members individually and collectively to improve student outcomes. 

We are spotlighting this because, to date, we have seen no other effort that is using federal relief funds to both train and focus the work of local school boards on student-focused achievement goals aligned to the state’s priorities. We believe this is a model other states should consider adopting.

Reviewer Analysis

Leslie Villegas

School board members should be trained to understand English learners' unique linguistic and academic capabilities if they are to adequately meet their needs. The support for this is conditional on the effort meaningfully including ELs and their families among the overarching goals for the institute.


This looks like a minimal investment with the potential of important development at the school board level to orient members to student achievement.

Southern Regional Education Board

More states should follow North Dakota’s lead in providing targeted professional learning for school members. However, what data is being used to identify scope and sequence of professional learning?

The Bush Center

My caution is to be sure that the content being taught to school board members really does stay focused on student outcomes. And, that people show up and follow-through with the training.

Jocelyn Pickford

Having recently served on a public school board, I know how important it is for board members to be trained in the connections between this role and student outcomes. I am impressed by the student-centered focus of this training.

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