CHARTER BOARD POLICY FAQ FOR BOARD MEMBERS

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QUESTIONANSWERRESOURCES
What is the difference between a policy and a procedure?The board of directors is responsible for creating policies. The school leadership team is responsible for creating procedures. Policies provide a broad application and serve as a general guiding principle. Policies rarely change and are generally fashioned as statements of what and why. Policies must be approved by the board of directors via vote, but they are not required to be approved by OCS or the SBE. Procedures provide a narrow application and describe in detail specific processes, protocols or steps. Procedures are prone to change and are generally fashioned as statements of how and when or who. Procedures do not need board approval.NC Education Governance Moodle
Why is it important for charter school boards to create policies?Through policy-making, the board is able to delegate authority and still retain ultimate responsibility and control. Policies assure consistency of actions, especially in difficult and stressful situations. Policies also minimize re-deliberating on matters that the board has previously decided. Finally, policies define the methods the school wishes to operate and the board wishes to govern.NC Education Governance Moodle
What policies should every charter school have?At a minimum, every charter school should have the following policies (according to the Ready to Open Framework):
•  Grievance Policy
•  Conflict of Interest Policy
•  Admissions and Enrollment Policy
•  Calendar and Length of School Day Policy
•  Classroom Policies (i.e., grading scales, report cards, etc.)
•  Promotion and Retention Policies
•  Accountability Policies
•  Student Behavior Policies
•  Hiring and Termination Policies
•  Criminal Background Check Policy
•  Staff Evaluation Policy
•  Student Health and Safety Policies
•  Student Records Policy
•  Family and School Communication Policy
•  Board Operational Policy
•  Board Committee Policy
•  Nepotism Policy
•  Third-Party Agreements Policy
•  Employee Agreements Policy
•  Budget Approval Policy
•  Third-Party Contracts Policy
•  Access to Funding Policy
•  Audit Policy
•  Purchasing Policy
When is it time to create new policies?Boards should consider creating new policies when issues arise that are not adequately/acceptably addressed by the current board policies or when changes in operating practice have accumulated over time so that the current policies do not reflect reality. Boards should also consider changing or creating new policies when there are internal or external transitions. Internal transitions would be things like leadership, facility, enrollment numbers, grade levels served, services offered, or methods of delivery of services. External transitions would be things like federal and state regulations, equal employment, safety, provisions of the state charter school legislation, etc. Lastly, boards should consider creating new policies when the current policies do not adequately reduce ambiguity and ensure uniformity of decisions across the charter school.NC Education Governance Moodle
What are some characteristics of effective policies?Effective policies are mission-oriented, product-driven (not process), legal (do not deny constitutional rights), communicated to all stakeholders, evolve over time, written within the scope of the full board's authority, are adopted properly, and ethically. Core policy elements include:
•  Title of the policy
•  Adoption or approval date
•  Effective date (if different)
•  Revision dates (if any)
•  Location(s) (i.e., employee handbook, school website)
•  Common numbering system (i.e., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3)
•  Who approved the policy (signature)
•  Whom the policy affects
What are some best practices for policy writing?Policy writing requires the use of a consistent writing format and writing style. A policy writer should be someone who understands how to gather the information, document a process, present the words in a logical fashion, and publish and train the audience to ensure the content is understood. Writing policies involves research, writing a draft, hosting reviews, and getting approvals. Widespread communication of the policies, training, and timely revisions are also important. Stakeholder involvement is key to a successful policy writing campaign. It is also important to make sure that all policies align with the school's mission, purpose, and targeted population.
What steps are recommended to adopt a policy?•  A need is identified. Previous policies may be examined to determine if the need is already addressed in some way.
•  Relevant data is collected based on the need.
•  Recommendations are made by several groups. Seek input from those that the policy will directly impact (students, parents, staff, etc.).
•  The recommendations are debated by the board (or assigned committee) to decide the framework for the eventual policy.
•  A draft policy is created (by appointed team) that follows a standard format: 1. Focus on outcomes 2. Establish boundaries within which the staff will operate 3. Sensitive issues should be reviewed by legal counsel.
•  Notice is provided for first reading where public comments may be made. Based upon comments/feedback revisions could be made.
•  Notice is provided for second reading where policy is adopted. The new policy is printed and provided to each member of the board and administrative team to keep the policy manual updated.
•  The policy is implemented. Implementation procedures are developed by the administration.
•  The policy is evaluated at least annually, and if necessary, revised. The evaluation should include information from administration, staff, students, and parents.

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