Policy Development Steps
Use the following steps for defining your policies.
Step One: Define the Issue or Problem
The process of policy development begins with recognizing the need for written policy. Often a board or superintendent faces a decision that would be easier to make if a policy existed.
The board is not alone in identifying policy needs. Parents, students, teachers, local taxpayers, the superintendent, the state or federal government, and pressure groups are all sources of policy issues and problems.
Step Two: Gather Necessary Information on the Issue
Sample policy language and analysis from your state association and NSBA
Experience from other districts
State association seminars
State or federal laws and regulations
Step Three: Secure Recommendations from Superintendent
Once facts are available, the board listens to recommendations for handling the policy issue. The superintendent is often changed with recommending policy action, since he/she is the one responsible for carrying out the policy.
Step Four: Discuss and Debate at the Board Level (include input of affected parties)
Is the content within the scope of the boards authority?
Is it consistent with local, state, and federal law? The U.S. and the states constitution?
Does it support the school districts goals or objectives?
Is it good educational (personnel, business) practice?
Is it reasonable? (Are any requirements or prohibitions arbitrary, discriminatory or capricious?)
Does it adequately cover the subject?
Is it limited to one policy topic?
Is it consistent with boards existing policies?
Can it be administered? Is it practical? How much will it cost?
Step Five: Draft Policy
After the board has reached consensus on policy content, the boards policy writer goes to work. This person must be able to write clearly, directly, and succinctly. Pomposity, verbosity, educational jargon, and "legalese" should be avoided unless necessary to meet legal requirements. Policy must be broadly stated with room for adjustment to fit special circumstances.
Step Six: Hold First Reading
Once in writing, the policy draft is placed on the boards agenda for a first reading, giving notice to everyone interested that the board has a specific policy under consideration. At this time the board has the opportunity for preliminary discussion of the proposed policy and, if it chooses, may hold a public hearing. This is recommended for important or controversial draft policies.
Step Seven: Make Revisions
Revise the policy based on the information gained form the questions, comments and suggestions obtained after the first reading.
Step Eight: Hold Second Reading
The period between the first and second reading allows time for all concerned persons to ask questions, make comments, and offer suggestions for changes and improvements. A second public hearing may also be held.
Step Nine: Adopt the Policy
Step Ten: Distribute to the Public
Seeing the policies are distributed as widely as possible is one way to ensure implementation.
Step Eleven: Oversee Policy Implementation
Policy oversight is a dynamic process that includes an evaluative component. Oversight is intended to make sure that the policy accomplishes its goal. Policy oversight can provide guidance on whether to continue or modify the policy and to determine future courses of action.
Step Twelve: Policy Evaluation and Revision or Modification
Policies should be reviewed on a regular basis as a part of the boards standard operating principles. They can become out of date, unclear, or even contrary to the way in which the school district is operating. When any of this occurs the policy needs modification or elimination. The policy amendment process is the same as the policy adoption process. The board sets policy and the superintendent implements the policy and manages the schools within the guidelines set forth in board policy. In the absence of policy, the superintendent must use his/her own judgment.
|Effective Board Policy
(The above materials are adapted from the Washington State School Directors' Association's Passport to Leadership materials.)
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