School board discusses board policy

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL

The Washington School Board discusses board policy procedures at its meeting Wednesday evening.

Before board president Eric Turner discussed board policy procedures and addressed a conversation board member Stephanie Ellingson and Jason Hamilton had at the March meeting.

Turner said it was a ?dynamic? conversation. Afterward, Turner met with Hamilton, Ellingson, kindergarten teacher Dana Hamilton and himself to understand where one another?s/another?s perspectives were coming from better. Turner said the outcome of the meeting was a positive one.

?Hopefully, we can build off that effort to try to make a good team here ? continue to make a good team,? Turner added. ?I appreciate those efforts.?

Turner also addressed the questions that were raised about the approval of board policy series 406 that were approved at the February meeting.

?I just want to go through and review the process,? Turner said. ?How we review board policy.?

There is a board policy committee that meets with the superintendent, a principal and school district business manager Jeff Dieleman to review the policies that are going to come before the board at a school board meeting. They have to be reviewed every five years.

?If there is discussion and if anything changes or not, then those are brought to the board meeting,? Turner said.

The board policies are listed in the consent items, which Turner said there usually ins?t any discussion over. If a board member wants to discuss something in a policy, there can be discussion on it if they request to pull that item from the consent items list.

?We are required to review and update our policies,? he added. ?The reason why we have this process is so we don?t have to sit at a meeting where we approve a bunch all at one time.?

Board member Heidi Vittetoe and Turner were board members when the board policies were reviewed all at once and it wasn?t fun, Turner said.

?So this process is much better now,? he added.

Board secretary and district business manager Jeff Dieleman said when he started working there 10 years ago the board hadn?t reviewed any of the board policies for many years.

?And like you said we?re required to do it every five years in a cycle,? Dieleman said. ?So we break it down into five equal pieces.?

The Iowa Association of School Board (IASB) has bylaws with a template that the district can use to modify and made to their practices there, Dieleman added. When the legislation makes changes, IASB sends updates on which policies have changed throughout the year. The board policy committee reviews the changes and then brings it before the whole school board.

IASB provides a list to the district about what policies should be reviewed by the school board, which included series 400, so there was no specific timeline for those changes, Turner added.

?It is a result of collective bargaining changes and that?s why IASB is saying ?Hey, we?re recommending you update the policy,? so we put it in just like we have before,? Turner said.

In the past when the school board election laws changed they had to do some changes, Dieleman added. There were also gender and equity changes they had to do.

?So just to be clear when it comes from the IASB it?s a suggestion as to what you should change?? board member Jason Hamilton asked. ?And you should have to change it as you run your district to fit your district?s needs??

?Unless it?s done by state by law change, like when election cycles changed you had to change those, because it was law,? Dieleman responded. ?But yes, there?s some that are suggestions that you can either adopt or you don?t have to.?

Hamilton asked Dieleman if the items changed in the 400 series board policies were suggestions or laws.

Dieleman said they were suggestions.

?In the 10 years I?ve been here I?ve always recommended we adopt those suggestions, and I think we always have,? Dieleman added.