Introduction to the Policy Manual

Establishing policy is at the heart of the responsibilities of a local school committee.  When policies are clear, well documented and well organized in an easily accessible form, the task of carrying out these policies by school administrators, staff, and school committees is made much easier.  Policies also need to be accessible and understandable for the public.

This manual contains the official policies of the Amherst, Pelham, and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Districts.  Policy development is an ongoing process.  New issues, needs, laws, and problems require the development of new policies and the revision of existing policies.

The loose-leaf format easily allows the manual to be kept up to date.  Each person responsible for a copy of the manual should be diligent about keeping it up to date when new policies approved by the School Committees are distributed by the Central Office.

All policy manuals are the property of the Amherst, Pelham, and Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools.

Organization of the Policy Manual

The policies in this manual are organized using the classification system created by the National School Boards Association.  There are twelve major categories in this classification, and each category is assigned a letter of the alphabet:

A --- FOUNDATIONS AND BASIC COMMITMENTS
B --- SCHOOL COMMITTEE GOVERNANCE AND OPERATIONS
C --- GENERAL SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
D --- FISCAL MANAGEMENT
E --- SUPPORT SERVICES
F --- FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT
G --- PERSONNEL
H --- NEGOTIATIONS
I --- INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM
J --- STUDENTS
K --- SCHOOL-COMMUNITY RELATIONS
L --- EDUCATION AGENCY RELATIONS

Within each of the twelve categories of the NSBA policy classification system, numerous sub-classifications for policy topics are arranged in logical order.  Each policy in this manual has been assigned an identifying alphabetical code corresponding to that classification system.  For example, policies dealing with fiscal management are located in Section D and each has a code beginning with the letter “D”.  The additional letters in each policy’s code are determined by the particular topic covered by the policy.

Wherever possible, an existing code for a specific policy in the NSBA classification system is assigned to a policy in this manual. When a policy topic is not covered in the existing NSBA codes, additional letter or letters are added to the closest topic code to create a supplemental sub-code.

Regulations and Reference Documents:

-R  following a code indicates that the included document is a regulation, not a School Committee policy. 

-E  following a code indicates that the included document is an exhibit or reference  document, such as a form or legal agreement etc., rather than a School Committee policy. 

-G  following a code in Section B on School Committee is a voted guideline for committee operations.

Dates

Where possible, the original date on which the policy was adopted by the School Committee appears immediately after the policy.  In other cases, an approximate date or a re-approval date is listed.

Legal Reference

Pertinent legal references are listed to inform the reader where in the applicable statutes may be found in state law or federal law.    The General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are cited as MGL chapter and section.  The Code of Massachusetts Regulations is cited as CMR.

Contract Reference

Agreements reached through negotiations with recognized staff organizations have the full force of committee policy.  References to negotiated agreements are provided, as appropriate, to direct the reader to these agreements.

Cross Reference

Some policies and regulations relate to others.  Cross-references are provided following many statements to help the reader find all of the related information.

Distinction between Policies and Regulations:

Generally, the role of the School Committee is to set policy and the role of the administration is to implement the policy through regulations.  Written policies are the chief means by which the School Committee governs the school district, and written regulations are one of the means by which the committee’s policies are implemented.  The following NSBA definitions provide a distinction between policies and regulations:

Policies are principles adopted by the School Committee to chart a course of action.  They are broad enough to indicate a line of action to be taken by the administration in meeting a variety of day-to-day problems while being narrow enough to give the administration clear guidance.

Regulations are detailed directions usually developed by the administration to put policy into practice.

These definitions reflect the separate roles of governance and administration, but policies and regulations are closely related.  Policies and regulations can be difficult to separate unambiguously.  For example:

  • State and Federal law require School Committees to make or officially approve some detailed regulations and procedures in certain areas.
  • A School Committee signs contracts and agreements that may contains and interweave policies, regulations, and procedural details.
  • The public, staff, or School Committee members may insist that the School Committee itself establish specific regulations and procedures in certain sensitive areas.

As long as the administration operates within the guidelines of policy adopted by the School Committee, it may issue regulations without prior committee approval, unless the law requires committee action, or unless the committee has specifically asked that certain types of regulations be submitted for committee approval.  The School Committee is to be informed of all school system regulations issued by the administration.  All such regulations are subject to committee review for agreement with policy.

Is the Manual Complete?

No.  The manual contains all of the current written policies of the School Committee to date.  But there is continuing need for putting additional policies in writing, for adopting new policies and revising existing policies.  In addition, policy changes may be required when state and federal laws change and when regulations change.

No matter how well conceived and developed, a policy manual can never by 100% complete nor 100% up-to-date.  Policy development is an ongoing process.  Periodically, new policies, regulations, and reference documents will be developed, coded under the classification system, and issued for insertion into the manual.

Order of Precedence:

School Committee policies, regulations, and negotiated agreements with staff bargaining units must be read and interpreted in the context of the Massachusetts General Laws and State regulations.  Wherever inconsistencies of interpretation arise, the law and state regulations prevail.  A conflict between a local policy or regulation and a negotiated agreement must be interpreted in line with the contract for members of the particular bargaining unit.

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It is the hope of the Amherst, Pelham, and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committees that this collection of policies and regulations will make greater harmony and efficiency possible in all areas of school operations.  This will enable the committee to devote more time to its primary duty – the development of long-range policies and planning for the future of the school system.

Source: Massachusetts Association of School Committees  2006

Region Voted to Approve:
Amherst Voted to Approve:
Pelham Voted to Approve:
  

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