CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

November 10, 2012

County schools eyeing overhaul of board policies

By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times

— With many procedures dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, the Cullman County Board of Education is gearing up for the first major shake-up to the board policy book in decades.

The board has entered into an agreement with the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) for an approximately $14,000 initiative to draft a new, updated version of the system’s policy manual.

For Superintendent Billy Coleman, he hopes the process can turn a dense  tome that is several inches thick into something more streamlined the average staff member could navigate quickly.

“This is something a lot of systems are looking at, because there’s a lot of change right now in education,” CCBOE Superintendent Billy Coleman said. “Back in the 1970s there was a push for reform, and many of our policies can be tracked back to then, so we believe this will result in a concise document that will be easy to understand. We want something that can provide flexibility and make sure everything we’re doing is in line with the law.”

Coleman noted the expense is fairly small compared to what the system would likely have to invest to tackle the update itself, after adding in hours upon hours of attorney’s fees to interpret the outdated policies.

“It’s a really high-quality organization that will be doing it, using experts in educational law, which is not really our forte,” Coleman said. “I think in the long run this will be an asset to the system.”

The process is estimated to take between 3-5 months to complete, and AASB representative Ken Roberts met with the board Thursday evening at a work session to explain the process. In recent years, the AASB has worked with more than 25 local school systems to revamp outdated policies.

“Maintenance and revision is critical to being effective,” he said. “This is something you really take on for five reasons: to simplify, to obtain as much flexibility as possible in the decision-making process, to minimize liability, to determine exactly what a policy is and to create a user-friendly document your staff can use across a broad array of situations.”

But before moving forward, Roberts recommended the school board establish a committee to pore through the existing policy manual and eliminate any sections that are obviously outdated or in need of replacement to give the AASB team a better angle on where to begin.

The board hopes to start work on assembling a committee of principals, teachers and central office personnel soon.

Roberts said the process would essentially begin with a fresh template that complies with all current laws, which the AASB and local officials would build on to meet the specific needs of Cullman County.

Once complete, the new document would go up for review and eventual approval by the board.

Outgoing school board member Steve Freeman said he was excited to start the project and believes it should be a positive change that will have a lasting impact.

“I like that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, because there are some things out there now that we can glean from,” he said.



Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.