School Business Affairs October 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | OCTOBER 2020 13 team members’ strengths, overinvesting in communica- tion, and being authentic. Here are some additional leadership best practices for SBOs and their teams as they navigate the com- ing months. Use Collaborative Decision Making Working through any change process is hard; working through the COVID-19 pandemic is groundbreaking. Because this crisis affects everyone, the stakes are high and the consequences severe if leaders’ decisions reflect poor planning. Now more than ever, district leaders should engage and collaborate with all stakeholders in decision making, including administrators, teachers, employees, parents, government officials, and local agencies. Collaboration leads to better decision making and also builds trust and a sense of ownership, which are essential when leading during a crisis. Involve Stakeholders in Goal Setting Effective leaders include key stakeholders in establish- ing goals for their district. A collaborative approach is especially important when working through a crisis like COVID-19. The goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Once devel- oped, the goals should be translated into language that all stakeholders understand and made available through school websites, virtual meetings, and available media. When the school district is faced with an unanticipated problem, leaders must be able to act immediately. Make Resources Available School business officials play a critical role in helping the district meet its goals and fulfill its mission to provide a quality education for all students. SBOs must work with district leaders as well as community stakeholders to provide the financial resources for altered circumstances, including those that require additional cleaning supplies, personnel changes/reassignments, technology, and other support necessary to implement district plans for dis- tance and hybrid instruction. Plan for the Unexpected In light of the ever-shifting conditions associated with the pandemic, matters can change daily. Effective lead- ers develop alternative plans and goals to cover several scenarios. For example, a widespread coronavirus out- break in the school or community can cause schools in hybrid mode to change to 100% virtual learning. SBOs and their teams must ensure staff and students have the resources they need to continue teaching and learning. When the school district is faced with an unantici- pated problem, leaders must be able to act immediately. In this situation, experience and true leadership are measured by the response of the community to the tough decisions the leader makes. Stay Informed District leaders must always be aware of what is happen- ing in their district buildings, classrooms, communities, and beyond. They should listen to parents, students, and staff members and rely on the professionals who provide facts and information free from political bias or points of view that may be skewed by other agendas. Strategies to support the district’s goals should be adjusted to meet current research and data. Communicate Often SBOs and their must teams communicate with district personnel regularly to discuss new strategies and cul- tivate support for plans for district-wide reopening of classes now and through the coming months. Conclusion Because our ultimate goal as educators is to teach stu- dents while keeping them safe and healthy, SBOs and other education leaders will work together to guide their districts through this crisis. References American Federation of Teachers. 2020. Reopening schools dur- ing a triple crisis: Financial implications. June 10. sites/default/files/wysiwyg/reopen-schools-financial-implications. pdf ASBO International and AASA. 2020. What will it cost to reopen schools? June. sources/covid/COVID-19-Costs-to-Reopen-Schools.pdf. Nevins, M. 2020. Leadership in the time of COVID-19. Forbes . March 19. leadership-in-the-time-of-covid-19/#194b96ee5e4e. Larry Smith is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration in the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton and former school principal and superintendent. Email: