Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Identifying a need to update the school system’s policy manual, and in an attempt to do so in a cost effective way, the Macon County Board of Education is in the process of converting the local board manual to the North Carolina School Boards Association’s Policies to Lead the Schools (PLS).
“The board is undergoing a policy revision as a part of our normal routine,” said Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. “As time goes by, policies can become out of date, unnecessary or redundant. Additionally, recent legislation has required significant changes in school board policies. The North Carolina School Board Association has a team of legal advisors that monitor these and other issues impacting school boards. The NCSBA experience and expertise along with John Henning of the Campbell Shatley, PLLC law firm are proving to be very efficient and beneficial as we move forward in the revision process.”
The conversion process is being handled under the advisement of school system attorney John Henning Jr., who noted that by following the state school board’s PLS, the school system will save money while making sure they are in compliance with new state laws.
“It is such a large and time-intensive task that I wouldn’t dream of telling the board I could handle it for them, and if I did it wouldn’t be cost-efficient, so the NCSBA model is easily the way to go,” said Henning.
According to Henning, the laws passed down from North Carolina leaders involving how local districts operate change constantly, and with legal liability possible if policies and procedures are not in compliance, it is necessary to continuously update the local district’s manual. The NCSBA has streamlined the process and has staff dedicated to keeping up with all of the changes, a resource that will save the Macon County District both time and money.
The NCSBA has a web-based policy reference manual that was developed with the sole intention of assisting local boards of education in keeping up-to-date, legally compliant policies. The PLS provides sample policies that can be adjusted and amended to fit specific district needs.
The web-based manual is comprised of 330 sample policies that include all policies that are required by the North Carolina State Board of Education, policies mandated by the General Assembly, and references to legal authorities and guidelines.
Board policies are separated into various series, which classifies policies based on the issues they address. Henning presented the board of education with first readings in policies in four categories last week, which the school board accepted as a first reading. The policies won’t officially change unless the board of education votes to adopt them after a second reading in July.
“All of those are pending a second reading in July, with the only significant work to be done on 1) amending policy 2130 to reflect the board’s current practices in monitoring and controlling its own expenses, and 2) all of the 9000 series policies, in terms of complying with the Iran Divestment Act of 2015,” said Henning.
The conversion policy will ensure Macon County’s manual is fully compliant with state requirements, which Henning noted is important for several reasons including liability, funding eligibility, and just general good business practices.
The board is currently reviewing Henning’s recommendations and will have additional work sessions to move forward with the process.
“MCS administration is working through the model policies, with my assistance as needed, and will present them to the board for first reading on a schedule that the board has approved,” said Henning. “There will be at least two more work sessions to review these in groups, answer member questions and get input where needed. Then final approval of the entire revised policy manual will be before the board at its July meeting.”