More than 100 pages of Steamboat Springs School Board policies are getting a thorough review, thanks in part to guidance from an attorney with the Colorado Association of School Boards.
The long and tedious review process continued Monday night, when the School Board's five members discussed and debated about 10 policies primarily related to how the School Board governs the district.
The review and revision, which likely will take several more meetings to complete, was sparked by a desire to ensure policies correspond with changing state and federal laws, School Board President Paula Stephenson said. The review has since expanded to include discussion about whether the policies, as written, accurately reflect the theory and goals of policy governance.
But the process also has allowed board members to thoughtfully examine certain policies in other lights.
On Monday, board member Jeff Troeger expressed his concern that the wording of some policies infringes on the right to free speech and the board members' responsibilities as publicly elected officials.
One such discussion centered on a policy revision recommended by CASB that states: "Members will not publicly make or express individual negative judgments about superintendent or staff performance."
Excluding discussions relating to individual employees, which must be done in executive session, Troeger said board members should be able to make public comments about school or staff issues.
"We're elected public officials, and I think we should be doing as much as possible in public," Troeger said. "As a board member, if you're unhappy with something going on at a school you should be able to say that at a public meeting."
The discussions generated by the policy review are good for the School Board, Stephenson said.
"We have real good discussions, and the board members get to lay all their questions on the table," Stephenson said. "In the end, we'll have a stronger process and a greater ownership by board members."
CASB attorney Julie Seavy oversaw the proposed policy revisions, which reflect updated legal requirements, best practices for policy governance and greater protection for the superintendent, according to a letter from Seavy that accompanied the proposals.
Stephenson said the timing of the policy review is appropriate given the recent completion of a curriculum management audit the district is using to reform many of its systems.
"It fits very well with that strategy -- to try to align everything and make sure the district is going in the same direction," Stephenson said.
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