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The Governance Academy of Visionary Education Leadership (GAVEL) is an ASBSD Board Development initiative that offers multi-level learning opportunities designed to prepare school boards to effectively govern and provide the leadership necessary to improve student achievement. GAVEL represents ASBSD’s pursuit of your association’s primary goal: to inspire school board members and board-superintendent teams to value and pursue leadership development.

Contact Wade Pogany at 605-222-0889 or at to schedule a training event.


GAVEL board training is designed to help school board members provide the leadership our state’s public school students deserve. GAVEL: Building A Foundation, is built around basic foundations of school board work.

GAVEL training is detailed later in this introduction, but there are a few concepts that apply to all GAVEL learning opportunities.


School board members face diverse legal, financial and education issues. GAVEL learning programs are designed for all board members. Each foundation provides knowledge and skills you will need to be a leader in education. Consider attending as a board-superintendent team to reap the most rewards.

  • NEW BOARD MEMBER: Hit the ground running! Find out what you need to know to make the most of your term on the board. This training will help you avoid common mistakes.
  • FIRST-TERM BOARD MEMBER: Refresh what you’ve learned and fill in the gaps so you can be even more effective in the coming year.
  • BOARD PRESIDENT: Other board members look to you as a leader and role model. This training can help you be a mentor and build your knowledge of the basics of good boardsmanship.
  • EXPERIENCED BOARD MEMBER: Even if you’ve been on the board a few years, this training can help you understand new standards for effective board performance, new expectations for board members and best practices to improve your productivity.
  • SUPERINTENDENT: Learn how you and your board team can best help each other as you work to increase student achievement in your district. Stay up-to-date on the latest standards for effective board performance.


ASBSD schedules GAVEL training events throughout the state each year – see ASBSD’s publications and website for complete details on dates, times and locations. In addition, all GAVEL board learning opportunities can be delivered as a whole-board or small group session at the request of a local school district.


ASBSD has multiple ways to recognize board members who complete GAVEL learning programs.

GAVEL Certification: ASBSD offers voluntary GAVEL certification as a way to recognize board members who complete the GAVEL learning program.

Better Boardsmanship: Completing GAVEL training events also counts toward individual recognition in ASBSD’s Better Boardsmanship program.


GAVEL: Building A Foundation, is structured around a core curriculum that was developed in consultation with ASBSD members. The GAVEL core curriculum is based on three essential aspects of school board work, and their accompanying outcomes, that give school board members a solid foundation to govern effectively at the local level. The core GAVEL curriculum includes three key foundations:

  • SCHOOL BOARD GOVERNANCE: An introduction to the board’s governance authority (4 hours)
  • FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: Understanding school finance and district budgets (3 hours)
  • STRATEGIC PLANNING: Using the districts vision, mission, beliefs and goals to impact student performance (3 hrs).

Benefits of completing GAVEL training

After completing GAVEL training, school board members will be able to:

  • Make decisions at the board table that are in the best interest of students.
  • Form good working relationships with other board members and the administration as a governance team.
  • Understand and avoid crucial mistakes when dealing with legal issues.
  • Fulfill the board’s responsibilities to ensure a fiscally responsible school system.
  • Work within the board’s role with respect to personnel issues, including collective bargaining, hiring and terminations.
  • Clarify when the board should make a decision and when it should defer to administration.
  • Work effectively with the community in areas that range from advocacy to dealing with citizen concerns.
  • Value the vision, mission and district-level goals as a way to improve student achievement.
  • Understand how ASBSD services and staff can assist school boards.


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