MASB Policy Services Provided by NEOLA
Effective policies are at the core of successful school district governance. Maintaining policies that reflect both local oversight and ever-changing state and federal laws is an enormous task.
MASB is excited about our partnership with NEOLA to offer uniform school policies and guidelines to better serve all Michigan school districts. This partnership means that NEOLA will provide comprehensive policy services for MASB members on our behalf. As always, MASB is ready and eager to serve all members and answer any questions about school policy.
Policy Development and Updating
NEOLA, with assistance from MASB, will work with the board, administrators and committee(s) to develop a comprehensive policy manual that suits your district's needs. Each manual is based on templates that have been thoughtfully prepared by legal counsel and are customized to the district's unique circumstances through choices made by the board and administrative team. The bylaws, policies and administrative rules/regulations are a unique collection assembled by educators and attorneys. The final manual will contain legal citations, footnoted reference material, a comprehensive index and a cross-referencing system. The end result will be a policy manual that's in line with law and court decisions, indexed, cross-referenced and cross-checked, and meets the individual needs of your district.
Three Main Policy Components
- The Vision/Goals
The work we do in education should be tied in some way to the fundamental mission of our district: the education of children. When formulating a policy, a board member should begin and end with this in mind: How will this law help to educate our kids? The vision or goals for a policy should answer the question "why?" Why are we making this law?
- The Policy
This should be a clear, concise description of what the board wants or does not want. It should answer plainly the questions "what?," and "who?" What is it that the board wants to happen? Who will make it happen?
- The Objectives/Outcomes
Outcomes are a corollary to the "what?" question. What will indicate that our policy is accomplishing the board’s wishes? One of the board’s key roles is in overseeing its policies. In order to do that, the board should have clearly in mind what the expected outcome from the policy should be before it enacts the policy. This gives guidance to the administrative staff and helps ensure good board oversight.
In addition to these three main components, there may be board and administrative action taken in support of the policy. This may come through administrative regulations, board resolutions, financial budgeting, contracting, volunteer recruiting, etc., all guided by the board’s legislation.
Common Policy Pitfalls
There’s no one right or wrong way to approach policy construction. You can avoid misunderstandings, however, by being aware of preferred policy language. A sound policy statement should be clear, crisp, to the point and in as few a words as possible. Following are the types of common policy mistakes and pitfalls.
- Paraphrasing the law
- Restating the law
- Inconsistent usage
- Preaching – sending messages
- Philosophy and beliefs
- Multiple policy topics
- Inappropriate headings
- Lack of clarity
- Combining or confusing policy and procedures
- Adding legal considerations