A Council Development Project
Leaflet No. 2
Cassy Dierking Venters, Continuing Education Specialist
|Extension council agendas should be the product
of recommendations from extension council members and extension staff. A conference
between the council chairman and county program director, approximately two weeks prior to
the meeting, should be used to plan the agenda. This should allow sufficient time for
meeting mailings to reach council members.
Plan some time before each meeting for
socializing. Most councils are composed of people who may never see each other outside
council meetings. Prior to every meeting, they need time to warm up and get used to
|Call to order||The council chairman calls the meeting to
orderon time. A council meeting that starts on time is a sign that the rest of the
meeting has a good chance of being businesslike and productive and of ending on time. A
council meeting is a business meeting. When the meeting starts, socializing should end.
1. Take attendance. Note in the minutes who is present and absent. The attendance record is important proof that your meeting had a quorum present to conduct official business.
2. Recognize visitors. Introduce non-council members who may play a part in the upcoming meeting-such as staff, vendors or reporters. This is the council's meeting, and the council should know who's going to be listening.
3. Approve the agenda. The agenda is the council's plan for the meeting. The
council should formally accept the preliminary agenda sent before the meeting or modify
One way to receive agenda items is for the CPD to send council members a form two weeks
before the meeting to ask if they have business to be included on the agenda. Members can
jot down requests and return them to the CPD.
|Presenting reports||4. Approve minutes of the last meeting. Minutes are
the official record of council actions. Approval can be handled quickly, but the
importance of the minutes should not be taken lightly. Scrutinize them carefully before
the meeting, and correct errors before the council approves the minutes. An efficient
method of handling the minutes is to mail them out with the meeting notice and then
approve them at the council meeting without reading them. This allows council members a
chance to prepare for the meeting and to identify errors without taking an unnecessary
amount of meeting time.
Meeting minutes should be concise but still record the official actions of the council. That does not include a blow-by-blow account of discussion on motions. The only official business conducted by a council is the action it takes, not the arguments or discussions that precede votes.
The minutes should include the date, time and place of the meeting; council members in attendance; and the exact wording of each motion and the way in which it was disposed. When a roll call vote is taken, the vote of each council members should be recorded. Time of adjournment should close the minutes.
5. Hear the financial report. The
council financial condition may affect action in the rest of the meeting, so the financial
report should come early on the agenda. Discussion may be facilitated by mailing the
financial report with the minutes. The financial report should include current
income and expenditures, how current income and expenditures match budget projects, and
reasons for variances from budget projections. Often, the CPD can give the council a
preview of upcoming expenses or revenues.
|Decision-making||Everything to this point has been preliminary to the real
business of the council meeting. "Housekeeping" chores have been cleared away
and information has been collected for decision making. Next it's time to consider
motions, discuss them and make decisions on matters that affect the entire organization.
Consider unfinished business. There may be few items of unfinished
business on the agenda. These are items that were not completely disposed of at a previous
meeting, such as motions tabled or actions interrupted by adjournment or intentionally
carried over for discussion or action at the current meeting.
|Closing||11. Make announcements. The business of the council is
completed, and anything at this spot on the agenda is purely informational and does not
require action. Announce future council meetings and activities.
12. Adjourn the meeting. A motion, second and majority vote are required to adjourn the meeting. The chairman should not simply declare the meeting adjourned without a vote. The council as a whole must decide when its business is completed.
Adjournment doesn't have to wait until every item on the agenda has been covered. Two hours is the maximum length of time for a productive meeting. A longer meeting produces unhappy council members and poor decisions. When the council chairman determines that little is being accomplished, it's time to ask for a motion to adjourn and hold the remaining business for the next meeting.
Continue to evaluate your meeting. Take a few minutes after the meeting, two or three times a year, to evaluate the way your meeting worked. If you had problems, don't be afraid to experiment with changes to make your meetings better. Find what works and is comfortable for the council.