Updated board policy supports student achievement
CSBA’s GAMUT services can help districts ensure their policies are up to date
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Board policy serves as the foundation for the operation of school districts and county offices of education. It encapsulates the board’s vision, philosophy and goals, incorporates state and federal laws and regulations, and establishes best practices. Board policy is also a governance tool that is critical for executing local control. Establishing structure through policy is one of the board’s central roles for building and maintaining relationships that are essential to successfully serving students. In conjunction with administrative regulations, board policy guides the superintendent in fulfilling the board’s vision when carrying out day-to-day operations. By implementing board policy, districts and COEs actualize the direction set by the board while maintaining confidence that legal obligations are met.

Studies suggest that boards in high-achieving school districts spend more time discussing student achievement and policy development than on administrative details. Given the strong link between board policy and district performance, the importance of keeping board policies updated should not be overlooked.

“Routinely reviewing policies will help keep policies current with state and federal laws and regulations while also providing regularly scheduled opportunities to assess whether policies continue to be aligned with the board’s vision, philosophy and goals and are reflective of district or COE practices,” said Elaine Yama-Garcia, CSBA’s Assistant Executive Director of Policy and Governance Technology. “For these reasons, boards should consider placing board policies as a regular item on board meeting agendas or scheduling quarterly special meetings to review and update policy.”

CSBA offers a variety of policy services to assist boards in the challenging task of updating and managing policies. The new GAMUT platform provides an easier interface for reviewing, updating and managing policies. Readily accessible explanations of recent revisions to sample policies (“guide sheets”) are posted on GAMUT, and explanatory notes within the policy documents themselves can be seen or hidden with one click, giving boards a better understanding of changes when reviewing policy. Also posted is a current list of mandated and conditionally mandated policies, helping boards to prioritize policy review based on those policies that are required by law. Additionally, GAMUT can translate policies created within the system into more than 100 languages.

More about CSBA’s policy options:
  • CSBA’s GAMUT Policy – CSBA’s GAMUT Policy service provides online access to CSBA’s most recent sample policies, administrative regulations, board bylaws and exhibits, including accompanying legal references and management resources. Sample policies are updated each year to reflect changes in law. GAMUT Policy subscribers receive updated sample policies quarterly in March, June, September and December.
  • CSBA’s GAMUT Policy Plus – For further support, districts and COEs can subscribe to GAMUT Policy Plus — an easy-to-use software program that makes maintaining policies easier and more effective. Policy Plus allows districts and COEs to create a unique GAMUT page that integrates directly with the district’s or COE’s website, edit policies directly through an online editor, post policies in real time and submit policies to CSBA’s policy team for review. Policy Plus also enables access to archived versions of board policies, allows subscribers to restrict access to draft policies until they have been adopted by the board, includes advanced search features for efficient and thorough research, and has the capacity to integrate policies with board meeting agendas when paired with GAMUT Meetings.
  • CSBA’s policy workshops – CSBA’s experienced and knowledgeable policy consultants are available to provide districts and COEs assistance with developing or updating their policy manuals, which can be arranged by contracting with CSBA for a customized policy workshop. A CSBA consultant will facilitate a review of the district or COE policy manual by working with a team of administrators and/or board members to tailor CSBA’s sample policy manual to meet local needs. These workshops are currently being scheduled and presented virtually, with hopes of returning to in-person workshops in the near future.

CSBA’s GAMUT platform is designed to house all subscribers’ policies, administrative regulations, exhibits and bylaws. CSBA ensures that along with its consistent systemwide numbering and naming configuration, it will also house policies and other documents unique to individual districts or COEs. “Policies that are unique to districts or COEs may be retained, but we caution that unlike the sample policies that CSBA policy consultants develop and revise and that receive legal review, policies unique to districts will not receive regular review by CSBA,” said Greg Francis, CSBA senior policy consultant.

For more information about CSBA’s sample board policies, administrative regulations, board bylaws and/or exhibits, contact CSBA’s Policy Department at policy@csba.org. For more information about CSBA’s GAMUT services, call (800) 266-3382 or email gamut@csba.org.

To learn more about the connections between school board policy, effective governance and high-achieving schools, read CSBA’s publication The School Board Role in Creating the Conditions for Student Achievement: A Review of the Research, available at https://bit.ly/3xA6Ktp.