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Evaluating Competing Membership Organizations and Alternative Services

Learn what questions to ask to evaluate quality, transparency, and best value when looking at competing membership organizations and alternative services for your school boards and their districts.

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Here are some questions you should ask to evaluate quality, transparency, and best value when looking at competing member organizations and alternative services for your school boards and their districts.

History, Governance, and Funding 

  • How long has the organization been in operation?  
  • Does the organization have a board; and, who elects the governing board? 
  • Does the organization allow each member to have a voice/vote in the overall mission and purpose of the organization?  
  • Does the organization have bylaws and are they available upon request? 
  • How is the organization funded?  
  • Is the organization nonpartisan? Has it, or an associated group, ever endorsed, supported, or opposed local school board candidates? 
  • Where is the organization formed or incorporated as an entity? 
  • Where is the organization’s office headquarters located?  
  • How many staff members support the efforts of the organization? 

General Solutions and Service Questions 

  • Have similarly situated school districts used the services and recommended them? 
  • Does the organization provide services directly or outsource service fulfillment to another provider(s)?  
  • How does the organization assess the qualifications of external service providers and how do they rate the effectiveness of the service delivery? 
  • What are the qualifications of the organization’s staff? Do they have previous experience working in the K-12 space? 
  • How does the organization protect the data of its members? 

Solutions and Services 

Policy Service  

  • How does the organization ensure that a district’s policies align with all applicable state and federal laws, requirements regulations? 
  • Does the organization provide a manual that is customizable by/for the district? 
  • If the district has a legal question related to board policy does the organization provide legal consultation? Is there an additional fee? 
  • What is the capacity to display a district’s policy manual online to the public?  
  • How is the pricing determined; what is the cost to originate a manual and annual cost per year to maintain it?  

HR Services  

  • Does the organization provide a library with compliance guidance on HR laws and customizable HR forms, templates, and job descriptions? 
  • Does the organization conduct statewide salary and benefits surveys and make all results available to its members in a searchable online database?  
  • Does the organization offer unlimited access to K-12 HR experts employed by the organization and comprehensive HR trainings?  
  • Does the organization’s staff provide HR consulting services, such as compensation, staffing, and HR operations reviews?  

Risk Management 

  • Does the organization provide options for traditional commercial insurance or for participation in a risk-sharing pool with other local governments? Have they shared information about the financial strength of the risk pool or insurance company and the names of other districts that participate? 
  • Is the risk management program and associated services managed through an insurance broker or agent or by a firm specialized in school-based risk management services?   
  • Which coverages are offered, and do they meet the district’s full risk management coverage needs? 
  • Does the service provider or brokerage firm provide specialized training, resources, and education programs designed to help school districts mitigate risk and ensure the safety and protection of the district’s students, staff, property, and community? 
  • What other services are offered to support risk management compliance or other unique requirements for Texas school districts?  

Facility Services 

  • Does the organization assist its members with state required environmental planning? 
  • How does the organization document environmental testing outcomes for districts? Are records easily accessible to members? 
  • Do you have trained environmental specialists, or do you outsource? 
  • If you outsource, how is the company vetted? 
  • Do you assist members with facility planning? Bond planning? 

Board Meeting Management  

  • What features and functionality does the digital meeting platform being offered by your organization provide? 
  • Who provides the training and customer service? Is it organizational staff or outsourced to a vendor? 
  • Does the platform allow for selected information to be visible online to the public on the district’s website?  
  • What is the cost to subscribe to this service? Are there limits on the number of users or meetings that can be managed? 


  • Does the organization’s purchasing cooperative offer a rebate to members? If so, how is that rebate calculated and how is eligibility determined? 
  • How is the organization’s purchasing cooperative governed?  
  • How does the organization’s purchasing cooperative conduct vendor evaluations? How are final vendor selections made and announced? 
  • How does the organization evaluate the pricing and quality of services/products being offered by the purchasing cooperative?  

Energy Contracts/Cooperative 

  • Does the organization's energy program offer fixed rates on electricity and fuel?  
  • How is the energy program managed and/or governed? 
  • How does the organization conduct provider evaluations? How are final vendor selections made and announced? 
  • Can you add or delete meters without penalty and under the same terms and conditions in your contract? 
  • Does your electricity program offer unlimited swing as a member benefit? 
  • Are there penalties for underestimating the amount of fuel/energy needed?