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Standard for Governance & Leadership

The Standard: The science fair is chartered, licensed, or authorized by a state, nation, or other authority that operates in the public interest. Science fair governance may not be restricted to a single individual; rather, it should be a body of individuals   who are committed to the mission of the organization and independent in their judgment and responsibility. Ideally, such a board of directors would be representative of the stakeholders and be a non-compensated, volunteer body with term limits.  The governance and leadership ensure the integrity, effectiveness, and reputation of the fair through the establishment of policy, provision of resources, and assurance of a fair and just competition.  The governance and leadership act ethically and consistently to assure an atmosphere of mutual respect and purposeful effort on behalf those participating in fair activities. Fair leadership fosters a productive working environment, timely and open communication with stakeholders and volunteers, and the vision necessary for day‐to‐day operations and long‐term planning.

Indicators for all science fairs:

Governance and Leadership

2.1 The fair is in compliance with all applicable statutes, ordinances, and regulations of all civil authorities of the jurisdiction in which the fair is located.

2.2 No legal or proprietary ambiguities in ownership, control, or responsibility exist. Partnerships and any corporate linkages in ownership/governance are expressed as enforceable agreements.

2.3 The governance and leadership work cooperatively to establish and maintain clear, written policies and procedures that are consistent with the science fair’s philosophy/ mission. These policies and procedures are implemented at all times and reviewed regularly.

Governance Composition

2.4       The science fair governance is not of a single individual, but should be a multiple-person body composed of individuals who are personally committed to the mission of the organization and possess the specific skills needed to accomplish the mission and independent in their judgment.  This governance, serving as a second level of authority to fair leadership, must have decision and policy making authority.

2.5 Where an employee of the organization is a voting member of the board, the circumstances must insure that the employee will not be in a position to exercise undue influence.

2.6  Terms of service should be established and enforced.  To ensure adequate rotation of officers and board members, an organization should limit the number of consecutive terms that a board member can serve.

2.7 Governance membership should, when possible, reflect the diversity of the communities served by the organization.  Advisory groups with a direct voice to the governance are encouraged when membership of the governance is restricted.

2.8Volunteer governance members should serve without compensation for their board service. They should only be reimbursed for expenses pre-approved according to established policy and directly related to carrying out their service.

Governance Responsibilities

2.9    The governance provides the science fair with effective leadership, support, and continuity, including succession planning to ensure stability of the fair’s leadership.

2.10 The governance thinks and acts strategically, reflecting on its decisions and the consequences of its actions.

2.11 The governance is focused on selection, evaluation, and support of the fair director; policy development; planning; assessing the fair’s performance; and ensuring the availability of adequate resources to accomplish the philosophy/mission of the fair.

2.12  Governance establishes policies for the effective management of the science fair, including financial and, where applicable, personnel policies. 

2.13  Governance meets as frequently as is needed to fully and adequately conduct the business of the organization.

2.14  Governance refrains from undermining the authority of the leadership to conduct the daily operation of the agency.

Leadership – Fair Director

2.15 The fair director is either accountable to the governance and/or is responsible for ensuring proper management of the science fair.

2.16 The fair director ensures that all fair programs and activities are adequately and appropriately planned, supervised, resourced, and staffed with qualified personnel/ volunteers.

2.17 The fair director undertakes operational, long range, and strategic planning to accomplish the fair’s mission and goals.

2.18 The fair director maintains appropriate and constructive relations with the fair’s staff and volunteers and all members of the fair’s community of stakeholders, including the schools and school system to which it provides its programs and services.

2.19  The fair director is responsible for establishing and maintaining the documentation of the operational processes of the fair.  Such documentation not only allows eases the review and modification of process, but provides appropriate succession planning as changes in staff and leadership occur. 

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