Policy Page: Is the Board Policy Manual on Your Summer Reading List?
By Nicholas BaumannWhile some peoples’ summer reading list may consist of novels, it is also a great time to consider a review of your board policy manual. This is a way of monitoring district performance while ensuring policies are current and reflect your community and the needs of the district.
The benefits of the monitoring process are that it
- Provides the opportunity for the board to know, own, and confirm or revise its board policy direction.
- Provides the opportunity for the superintendent to know, implement, and be accountable for the board’s policy direction.
- Ensures that board expectations are being met.
- Ensures the legal operation of the district.
- Allows the board to ensure its policies are current and clear.
- Enables accountability to the community, based upon accurate data and information.
- Builds trust among the board, staff, students, parents, and community.
- Provides an opportunity for continuous board and district improvement.
- Provides continuity during transitions of board members and/or the superintendent.
- Enables the board to better fulfill all of its governance responsibilities.
IASB PRESS sample board policy 2:240, Board Policy Development, states, “The board will periodically review its policies for relevancy, monitor its policies for effectiveness, and consider whether any modifications are required. The board may use an annual policy review and monitoring calendar.” So what do an annual policy review and monitoring calendar look like? Above right is an example of a one-year plan.
You may observe that the monitoring is not necessarily in order by section, but there are good reasons for that.
July-September Review Period
A review of Section 4, Operational Services, in July allows the board to ensure compliance with annual budget deadlines before September 30.
A review of Section 2, School Board, within six months of board elections and the seating of new board members allows the assessment of the board’s own processes and commitment about how it does its work.
October-December Review Period
Reviewing Section 6, Instruction, during the months of October through December allows the board to work with the superintendent, existing staff, as well as new staff in working toward reviewing and updating instructional goals.
January-March Review Period
A review of Section 3, General School Administration, in January allows the board to complete its review prior to completing its superintendent evaluation and the evaluations of other district administrators.
April-June Review Period
That leaves the board with Section 7, Students, as the final section to review. As the board looks back on the school year as a whole, this is an ideal time to cover policies related to subjects such as equity, attendance, student rights and responsibilities, and welfare services.
- Legal compliance. There are legal parameters set by federal and state law and regulations. Written board policy addresses the parameters necessary for the district’s legal compliance.
- Clarification of the district’s purpose. The board’s written policy is the tool by which it establishes board and district commitments to its community and stakeholders – what the board promises in terms of what the district will accomplish and the operational parameters within which the district will work.
- Providing information to stakeholders. Written board policy informs the community and stakeholders of its commitments.
- Spanning transitions and providing continuity. The board’s written policy provides a means for spanning transitions (turnover within the board, in the superintendency, and administration) and provides continuity for the district’s work towards its mission, vision, and goals.
Nicholas Baumann is a Consultant in the Policy Services Department with IASB. Resources associated with this article can be accessed via bit.ly/JA22JRes.