By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
With several policies from decades ago still on the books, the Cullman County Board of Education may contract with an outside group to refresh some dated rules and regulations.
The board is considering a contract with the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) to have that organization update the policies to bring them in line with modern state law and comparable, modern regulations.
The original policy book dates back to 1974, and was updated in 1985 — meaning most policies are at least 25 years old, while some are more than 35 years old.
“There have been some times where we’ve had some issues, because the language wasn’t really clear,” Superintendent Billy Coleman said of the system’s policies.
Coleman noted previous administrations had attempted to update the policies and procedures in 2003, and also in 2005, though neither initiative was seen through to completion at the time.
The service would cost a flat fee of $14,500, though some additional attorney’s fees could apply, so school officials are conducting additional research before officially signing on.
Though the amount may seem high up-front to some, Coleman noted the board spent $1,400 in attorneys’ fees in 2010 to research and update just one policy, which revolved around the use of volunteer coaches in county athletics.
“At least 20 or more policies need reviewed, and we all want to do the right thing,” Coleman said. “We really believe this will save us some money in the long run.”
But, not everyone thinks outsourcing is the right option. Regional Alabama Education Association (AEA) representative Cathy Smith said she believes the system would be better served to handle the updates internally, tackling a handful of policies at a time.
“The cost bothered me greatly, and I’ve talked to Mr. Coleman about doing it in-house,” she said.
School board member Wendy Crider recalled the months of debate spent ironing out the volunteer coach policy, and said she doesn’t believe an internal effort on other policies would go any smoother.
“We spent months going over that, and had the attorney’s fees that are associated with it,” she said. “I think it would cost us just as much or more, and take more time if we were to do it ourselves.”
Fellow school board member Steve Freeman agreed, noting he believes the AASB team would be better equipped for the task.
“I know I’m not trained to write a policy, and I honestly don’t feel we, as a board, are qualified to do that,” he said. “We haven’t done anything with it in 26 years, and it needs to be done. It’s just a cost of doing business.”
* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.