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ASK THE STAFF

May/June 2016

New policy service tutorials available.
by Angie Powell

Angie Powell, IASB policy consultant, answers the question for this issue of The Illinois School Board Journal.

Question: How can my school board update and maintain its policy manual?

Answer: With ever-changing state and federal laws, regulations, court cases, community values, and local input, a school board’s policy manual requires constant and consistent review, updating, and monitoring. Indeed, among the most important responsibilities of a school board is to maintain a strong connection with its policy manual, live by its adopted policy, and to make that policy available to staff, students, parents, and the community.

The policy manual is the voice of the board to the community, and it must provide a statement of district goals, delegate authority to the superintendent, define operating limits, establish board processes, include all policies required by state and federal law, and provide for monitoring of district progress.

The Illinois Association of School Boards offers two services, PRESS and PRESS Plus, that can help meet each district’s unique local needs for policy manual maintenance.

PRESS (Policy Reference Education Subscription Service) is a calendar-year subscription service that provides access to IASB’s online encyclopedia of legally referenced and footnoted sample policies and procedures in the Policy Reference Manual, which are revised and updated periodically in the form of PRESS update issues. PRESS can be used in many ways – to look up specific sample policies and access the most up-to-date policy language and footnotes, to search for material on particular topics, or to access the four most recent update issues. PRESS is an essential tool for keeping board policy and administrative procedure manuals up to date.

PRESS Plus is a full-maintenance policy updating service available to districts that have done a policy manual customization with IASB. PRESS Plus is a supplementary service to PRESS. Subscribers have the same access as PRESS subscribers to the online Policy Reference Manual and PRESS updates. However, PRESS Plus goes further to help districts keep their policy manuals up to date by maintaining a copy of the district manual and placing suggested revisions directly onto the district’s most recently adopted policy, along with adding comment boxes next to the revisions that further explain the need for the updates as well as any optional or alternate language for the board to consider. PRESS Plus subscribers only receive suggested content changes that apply to their local manuals, and those suggestions work around any local customization that has already been adopted.

Both PRESS and PRESS Plus are explained in depth in new, online video tutorials designed to assist potential, new, and experienced users in understanding and navigating the services. The videos explain how to use either service to keep the board policy manual up to date while, at the same time, customizing the policies for the local district. Each video includes detailed information on PRESS or PRESS Plus, from the mailing that comes with each update issue to the updating and archiving of the local manual. The PRESS tutorial provides a walk-through of site navigation, searching options, the sample material, using the footnotes, and downloading and customizing the policies for use in the district. The PRESS Plus tutorial illustrates the customized Draft Update pages that are used by the district, how to use and submit the PRESS Plus Response Form, and the word processing that IASB will do to maintain a completely up-to-date copy of the district’s board policy manual, including legal references, cross references, tables of contents, and indexes. The tutorial videos are available at https://www.iasb.com/policy/ .

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