Unfortunately, many Governance Committees become de facto nominations committees. They spring to action once a year to recruit new members and then wither away once their job is "done". In actual fact however, the Governance Committee has a twelve month mandate with responsibility for Board renewal; Board member development; and, the assessment of Board, Committee, and Member performance.
Board renewal is generally something that most committees focus on. Their tasks are to: annually assess the composition of the Board against the requirements of the by-laws and the needs of the Strategic Plan, and, to identify suitable candidates for the Board and make recommendations for a slate of Governors. Although there is an old school of thought that advocates recruiting for the three "T's" (time, talent, or treasure), modern boards concentrate on the three "C's" - committed, collaborative, creative as being of more value.
Board Member Development tends to be more hit and miss. Jobs like assembling and updating a Board handbook; orienting new members; and, promoting on-going education of Board members in areas such as good governance, current trends in independent education, or even strategic thinking are all too often put on the back burner or relegated to one annual half day or evening retreat.
Finally, the area that is most often neglected by the Board in general, and the Governance Committee in particular, is Self-assessment. Boards need a mechanism to ensure the continuation of proper and effective governance and on-going effective practice; to confirm committee mandates annually and recommend changes; to conduct an evaluation of the Board, its members, its committees and task forces; and, to conduct exit interviews of retiring members.
A few years ago, I was involved in a National Study of Board Governance Practices in the Non-profit and Voluntary Sectors in Canada. Among their findings they discovered that only about 35% of Boards conducted regular self-evaluations. In fact, only about 55% of Boards reported that they even set annual objectives for themselves let alone evaluating how effectively they achieved them.
Assessment of Board performance (as opposed to school performance) is the most critically important task for any Governance Committee. Everything else is window dressing!