Although some may feel it unimportant and even a bit boring, a primary function of a local board of education is policy making. The policies developed help govern all aspects of the operations of a school district. Over the past several years the Winona Area Public Schools have revisited and adopted nearly two hundred school district policies. These school policies govern all portions of district operations. This is a very important task because these policies help inform students, parents, staff and the community about the general direction and limits that should be followed when we are faced with unique and ever changing situations.
The policies of our school district are usually developed by the administrative and district staff, but only the board of education, acting as a legislative body, can legally adopt them. Policy development usually relates to aspects of the student learning environment and the overall school district operations. At nearly every regular meeting our school board will consider district policies. The usual procedure will be to have a new or rewritten policy presented at one meeting as a briefing item (draft form) then two weeks later the policy will be on the board agenda as an action item. Once the board of education votes the approved policy it will be immediately implemented.
Prior to adoption of all policies the district staff cross-checks to make sure the proposed policies are in alignment with federal and state legislation. In 2005 the Minnesota School Boards Association reviewed all District #861 policies and made recommendations for changes, reconsideration or removal of existing school board policies. Since that initial review hundreds of hours have gone into addressing policy issues for our school district. The following are categories set to organize our district policies. For example, any policy with a 500 designation relates to our students. Some samples of student policies included in this section are guidelines for discipline, student searches, student activities, Internet use and fund-raising.
100 SCHOOL DISTRICT
200 SCHOOL BOARD
600 EDUCATION PROGRAMS
700 NONINSTRUCTIONAL OPERATIONS AND BUSINESS SERVICES
800 BUILDINGS AND SITES
900 SCHOOL DISTRICT - COMMUNITY RELATIONS
Members of our Board of Education have the opportunity to receive specialized training on policy governance principles and the role of the school board. The Minnesota School Boards Association trains members using the John Carver model to help make them more effective and free to focus on policy instead of administrative details. The main idea of this model is to have boards set goals, build a network and assess how and if the district is making progress toward these goals.
Our Winona Area Public School district policies are kept in hard copy at the Superintendent's Office at 903 Gilmore Avenue, Winona, MN 55987, or should a community member wish to review current school district policies they can be accessed and searched using key words via our school district website at http://www.winona.k12.mn.us. Once at the site you can locate the policy sections by going to the School Board link and looking under the category titled: School Board Policies. The process of policy rewriting and adoption will never be completed since it is fluid and reflects district dynamics along with ever changing legislation.