School District Policy 101: A Guide for Board Members

School District Policy 101: A Guide for Board Members

School policy is like a compass for your district, guiding operations and governance to exactly where they should be. That’s why adopting local policies is one of the school board’s most important jobs.

School board members should understand how policy works and why it’s so important to every aspect of the district.

In this article and the video, we’ll answer some basic questions to help you better understand your board policy manual and the policy development process.

What’s a TASB Policy Service consultant?

Your school district has an assigned TASB Policy Service consultant. Your consultant will:

  • Answer questions
  • Draft policy language
  • Conduct training and workshops, like policy review sessions

What's a policy review?

Think of your school district’s policy manual as a car. To keep it in working condition, you have to take it in periodically for checkups. A policy review session is the regular review and checkup of your manual. Without a checkup, your policy manual may become out of sync with current practices.

TASB recommends review sessions every five to seven years. During the review, your consultant will help bring your manual up to date and prepare any changes for board consideration.

Related: Districts will be receiving their Update 118 packets beginning mid-October 2021.

What are the responsibilities of the superintendent versus the school board?

The superintendent will recommend policy to the school board and develop administration regulations to help manage district operations. She will also delegate responsibility to district staff based on policy.

The school board has the exclusive power to govern and oversee management of public schools. The board adopts policy and hires the superintendent.

What’s included in our district’s policy manual?

The policy manual is organized into seven sections, each with a focus on an area of operations:

  1. Basic District Foundations
  2. Local Governance
  3. Business and Support Services
  4. Personnel
  5. Instruction
  6. Students
  7. Community and Governmental Relations

See more Policy 101

Watch the video below to get answers to more basic policy questions, like:

  • What’s the difference between Legal and Local policies?
  • Why do we need a Local policy?
  • How does my district update policy?

Related: The School Board Member’s Guide to Policy (pdf) goes into more detail on the board’s role in policy development and adoption.

Take a deeper dive into school district policy

TASB Policy Service answers frequently asked questions from trustees, parents, and administrators.