Saturday, August 24, 2019

Ensure transparency in Conference attendance by using sample policies

IASB encourages school boards planning to attend the Joint Annual Conference to be pro-active in documenting their professional development experiences and expenses at Conference.

One way to do that is to adopt a policy that addresses mandatory professional development for board members and permits and encourages other ongoing leadership training opportunities for those who have volunteered to serve their community as unpaid school board members.

IASB’s Policy Reference Education Subscription Service (PRESS) has a sample policy, 2:120, Board Member Development, on this topic. It provides sample text for school boards regarding issues related to setting parameters for board member training. Boards can use the guidance to set parameters on governance concerns (ensuring that board members learn, understand, and practice effective governance principles and other best practices). Boards can use that sample text, as well, to set parameters on three types of mandatory training (105 ILCS 5/10-16a (professional development leadership training); 105 ILCS 5/24-16.5 (Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) training); and 5 ILCS 120/1.05(b) (Open Meetings Act training)).

The major purpose and function of the sample PRESS policy on board member professional development is to provide information and guidance to staff members, students, parents, and community. It paraphrases the mandatory board member training statutes and provides information to the community (see Policy background information below).

The Joint Annual Conference provides both mandatory and governance-related training to school board members and administrators through a full-day Pre-Conference PDLT Workshop and many other presentations, workshops, and exhibits on school governance and leadership, education funding, student learning and achievement, school law and technology, as well as current education issues and best practices.

Also calling for transparency at Conference are expenses, and PRESS offers two sample policies on the topic: 2:125, Board Member Compensation; Expenses (for board member expenses), and 5:60, Expenses (employee expenses). State law controls both of these policies’ content (105 ILCS 5/10-9, 5/10-10, and 5/22-1 (no compensation allowed, conflicts of interest prohibited); 105 ILCS 5/10-22.32 (expense advancements); and the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act (ECA) 50 ILCS 150/10 (regulation of travel expenses)). School attorneys say complying with the law is the purpose and function of these sample PRESS policies on expenses (see Policy background information below).

Boards may wish to review and communicate about their existing policies or consider adopting a policy before attending the 2019 Joint Annual Conference, which is scheduled for November 22-24 in Chicago.

Policy background information
Consistent with the legislative intent expressed in the School Code, school boards govern through written policies that are implemented by the administration. The job of drafting board policies is frequently given to lawyers to ensure legal compliance. The law is never stagnant, which explains why board policies frequently need review and updating. At IASB, lawyers draft and revise sample PRESS policies and use a diverse PRESS advisory board (PAB) to provide feedback. IASB policy consultants provide a wide range of policy services from customization to a maintenance service.
The key to understanding a policy is to understand its purpose(s) or function(s). Without understanding the policy’s purpose or function, the policy will not make sense and will be difficult to implement. Each policy has one or more of the following basic functions or purposes:
  1. Ensure legal compliance,
  2. Direct or authorize the superintendent or staff members,
  3. Establish board processes, and/or
  4. Provide information.