NCVA Board Meeting (volleyball)
Four members of the parent group met with the NCVA board last night on June 11, 2006 for 34 minutes. The NCVA is in a warehouse style building on the south end of San Francisco. I looked to see if all the floors were sport court, which turned out to be not the case. All of the board was present with the exception of Ed Cohen who was absent on a personal matter. The five board members were very welcoming.
Our time consisted of a power point presentation, written and presented by another member of the parent group. (he did a great job btw) At the end of the presentation, the board thanked us and promised to get back to us on our proposals. I did ask if board meetings in general were open or closed and there was no direct answer. Possibly the most uncomfortable moment came with the slide that compares the NCVA's perception of itself with what's said about the NCVA. One member of the board acknowledged the perceptions, but said that he had found them not to be true in his experience on the board. The other members of the board did not respond.
I believe that one thing that may need to be sorted out once and for all is do these "perceptions of NCVA" have basis in reality as part of a clear pattern. While the perception is a problem for the organization regardless, the remedy is very different if the Perception is Reflective of real Patterns and Practices at NCVA. I also suspect that the board (quite fairly) needs to see the actual evidence. They did not (nor would I expect them to) share any evidence they may have seen in the past. The parent group is quite willing to present anything that seems credible when someone is willing to confirm it, but it can not and will not push forward concerns that other people won't stand behind.
As a group, the parents have put a great deal of work into pushing for a Region that is accountable and transparent. Certainly, progress has been made in these areas and much work remains regardless. We won't, however, do other individuals' work for them. We can, for instance, ensure that there is a forum, but at the end of the day we're just parents with limited direct experience in some of the areas that others have complained about.
I couldn't tell you what the ultimate response to this will be. There are certain things I have figured out.
1) I really did start as a parent who called the NCVA one day asking to go see a board meeting.
2) At times this process has felt like playing Texas Hold'em
3) If NCVA is to become a transparent-accountable institution for ordinary parents, this is the first of many meetings and just the beginning of a long process of engagement.
4) We have been very fortunate to have the benefit of the intensive participation of some individuals whose time as parents of Juniors is coming to an end. It's critical that more individuals with a longer-term stake in this process get involved. My own daughter has 2 years left. After that, I'd have to be an NCVA volley-grandparent.
5) For some reason I suddenly feel this stake in attending UOP Men's and Whitman College Women's volleyball matches when they come to the Bay Area. I've learned the importance and power of parents across clubs, levels, etc. to take the time to connect with one another.
The Power Point presentation is digested below.
NCVA ParentBill of Rights
We believe that parents have rights and that their concerns are reasonable and important.
What Parents Want from Their Region
* Safe, healthy playing environments for their children
* Clearly-identified procedures for dealing with problems
* Basic information about where their money is going (financial accountability)
* Governance that is open, democratic, accountable, and participatory as a model of adult life for their children.
* Most of all, Parents want to be treated and respected as constituents, not labeled as “customers.”
How is the Region Perceived?
* How NCVA sees itself…
* Problem Solvers
How is the Region Perceived?
* How others see NCVA…
* Run as a family business instead of for the benefit of the Region
* Not Accountable
* No clear lines of authority or procedures
What We Have Seen Thus Far
* The Region Staff has been responsive and taken time to meet with us.
* It took more than two months to see bylaws.
* The Region never provided financial information on its own. (technical violation of IRS Code)
* 4 Parents were given 30 minutes to present at a board meeting which is otherwise made up entirely of closed sessions.
* Which set of perceptions from the previous slide is the better match?
Safe Physical Environment
* Problem – There are cases every season where teams are forced to compete in unsafe conditions. Parents have the right to know that their child will be physically and emotionally safe at NCVA-sanctioned events.
* Solution 1 – Assure that tournament venues meet minimum safety and human factors standards (level playing courts, no obstructions, adequate restroom facilities, etc.).
* Solution 2 – Parents have the right to know that the tournament director or another responsible person experienced and trained in first-aid will be present at all tournaments.
* Solution 3 – Prompt reviews of background checks of club coaches and chaperones.
Safe Emotional Environment
* Problem – Club tryouts occur during the high school volleyball season and provide the opportunity for ethical lapses where some coaches put undue pressure on their high school players to try out at certain clubs and vice-versa.
* Solution – Prohibit club tryouts until after the completion of the high school volleyball season marked by the State Championships. NCVA should take a strong stand against coercive behavior and should pursue reports of violations with vigor.
Parent Participation on NCVA Board
* Problem – Even though they are the source of the majority of all operating revenues for the Association, parents often feel disenfranchised and disconnected from the NCVA.
* Solution – Make sure at all times that at least 25% of voting Board members are parents of actively participating junior volleyball players, including a boy’s parent. At a minimum, there should be two Parent Reps on the Board at all times.
Improve NCVA Board openness
* Problem – Parents don’t know who their Board of Directors, or NCVA Staff members are, how they got there, or what they do.
* Solution 1 – Add Board member bios and contact info on NCVA website.
* Solution 2 – Open up more Board positions for parent reps.
* Solution 3 – Post Board meeting minutes and upcoming meeting dates and agendas on the NCVA website.
* Solution 4 – Post Staff positions, background and responsibilities on website.
* Solution 5 – Establish an Executive Committee comprised of Board of Directors, excluding any staff or management of NCVA, whose responsibility is to evaluate and report on the overall performance of the NCVA.
Sharing of Financial Health
* Problem – Parents have no idea where their money is going or if it is being spent wisely.
* Solution 1 – Present the Operating Budget and financial performance against the budget.
* Solution 2 – Share the capital investments and key balance sheet items.
* Solution 3 – Plan as a team to gain consensus on both annual and long term objectives and plans.
* Solution 4 – Conduct Periodic Independent Audits and Publish the Results.
Improve NCVA Website Communications
* Problem – NCVA website is not user-friendly. Parents have trouble accessing information on NCVA Policies and Procedures, Standards and Accountability.
* Solution – Make website more user friendly – where prominent links take the user to relevant, up-to-date information.
Improve NCVA Website Communications
* Problem – “People barrage the NCVA Staff with inappropriate questions.”
* Solution – Add a “FAQ” section to the NCVA website that links users directly to answers to their most frequently asked questions.
* Post tournament sites, team seedings, competition results in a timely manner, OR post a timely explanation for why the information is being delayed.
* Use website front page headlines to respond to "hot issues," e.g., S.J. Convention Center “tent” at 17/18 Power League Qualifier.
Clear Courteous Communication with Staff
* Problem – Many Parents and Club Directors report that they are not always treated with courtesy and respect by members of the NCVA staff.
* Solution 1 – All email communications sent to NCVA should be acknowledged immediately via autoresponder so that the sender knows their email has been received and will not be ignored. Phone calls should be promptly returned if not handled in real-time.
* Solution 2 – Possible training regarding contact with their constituency for NCVA staff.
Thank you for your time.We hope you will seriously consider these issues, and we look forward to continuing this discussion at the next Board meeting.
NCVA Parent Group
Link to my other volleyball articles