Archive for Tuesday, September 7, 1999

SCHOOLS BEGIN POLICY MANUAL REVISION

September 7, 1999

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Parts of the Lawrence school board's policy manual will be deleted or revised following an audit that judged it inadequate.

The Lawrence school board is delving into the complicated, thankless task of rewriting its policy manual.

"You've got way too much detail in areas. You've got things missing," said Paul Getto, a policy specialist with Kansas Association of School Boards.

He was hired to help the district bring clarity to board policy. His rough draft of a new policy book is due Jan. 1.

In June, a $40,000 audit of district operations indicated the board's policy framework was inadequate to govern the district. Some policy sections had been rendered confusing, impractical or irrelevant by passage of new laws and evolving practices.

"We found policies that are not dated," said Betty Steffy, audit-team leader. "We found policies that were not revised for more than three years. Your policy is to revise every three years."

For example, the book references Robert's Rules of Order. These rules are designed for legislative bodies instead of boards, Getto said.

Another illustration: Policy sets a May 1 deadline for offering contracts to all certified employees. In some cases, Getto said, the board may want to wait on a new contract offer.

In another section, administrators are referred to "policy 613." It's not in the book.

A 1970 policy recognizes the "right" of a pregnant student or a student who is a parent to an education. Students have that right regardless of Lawrence school board policy. Stating the policy implies the right can be denied, Getto said.

Getto said board members should be actively involved in revision of the manual. It will be necessary to understand the document when asked to defend it, he said.

"Good policy will inevitably grate on someone somewhere."

He said it would be important to strip philosophical statements from the book, which includes decrees for dealing with meetings, personnel matters, educational programming and a wide range of other activities.

Entire sections need to be moved to administrative handbooks, Getto said.

Supt. Kathleen Williams said the handbooks for school buildings would be amended to include a master section common to all schools. Addenda will reflect special policies applicable to individual schools.

"By year's end ... we will also have that in place," Williams said.

-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is tcarpenter@ljworld.com.

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