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Blair Oaks board looking to decelerate policy process

by Anna Campbell | September 17, 2022 at 5:03 a.m.

The Blair Oaks School Board discussed a slightly slower approach to policy adoption at its meeting Tuesday to allow board members and the public to have sufficient time to review policies.

The board decided to remove Policy 2115, its policy addressing transgender students, Tuesday night, but it also had a slate of 20 other policy updates and changes to consider.

Members of the board seemed to want to decelerate the policy process.

"I kind of agree with what (Interim Superintendent Mark) Harvey said about putting the information out there for at least one week so people can read the policies, including ourselves, dig into it a little bit more, have a little more time, and then, like I said, get some input from the public if they want to submit any questions," Tim Luebbering said during the meeting.

"That allows our community to sign up to talk about it if it's something that they really feel passionate about or feel that they need to communicate something with us. It would give an ample amount of time," Glenn Reynolds added.

"I agree, too," Doug Moeller said. "We've been making pretty quick decisions on a lot of these things."

The district is also in the process of updating the way policies and regulations are displayed on the website. Policies, Harvey explained in an interview, are more general guidelines to address situations, while regulations provide input on the day-to-day.

"The format that we had on there before was just kind of hard to find things, and (we) just kind of felt like for the ease of our patrons and even ourselves as employees to finding that, the structure needed to be revamped," Assistant Superintendent Kimberley Walters said in an interview.

Sometimes the policy list the board must consider is quite lengthy, Walters said, so the board decided it might be best to offer the potential policy changes or updates at one meeting, then vote on them at the next meeting. This would give the board and patrons the ability to look at policies, research them and ask any questions they may have.

"(The board) would have gotten it prior to the meeting, had an opportunity to read through it, and then they would have voted on it, so we're just adding one extra layer of a little bit more ample time to look through and process it," Walters said.

Harvey also said the district would try to make the agenda more visible and make policies that are being considered accessible before the board votes. He said the public can also help the board by providing written testimony and working within the "chain of command" to address issues at their source, such as with a classroom teacher or building principal.

Many policy updates at this time of year reflect moves to comply with recent legislative action, he said. Such was the case with the list of policies the board saw Tuesday.

Districts generally pull policies from two main authors: the Missouri School Boards' Association and Missouri Consultants for Education.

Blair Oaks is a member of the Missouri United School Insurance Council, and has access through MUSIC to MCE policies.

Each district can tweak these policies to fit the specific situation of their district but may need to confer with legal counsel to make sure they're doing what's required. Boards have to be cognizant of statute and liability, Harvey said.

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