Manatee County School Board takes steps to update policies, procedures by looking at bylaws

BRADENTON -- After approving a $70,000 contract in July, the Manatee County School Board took the first steps in updating its written policies and procedures by developing bylaws with a company that will shepherd the board through the process.

In a specially scheduled workshop, the board met with five members of a team from Neola Inc., to go over the template for the district's bylaws Friday.

"The bylaws that you've been presented in the form of templates have been adopted in one form or another by every board that we work with in Florida," said Tom Young, the lead from the Neola team working with the district. The bylaws can be tweaked or adapted to specifically fit the needs of the district.

At a meeting in July, the board approved a nearly $71,000 consulting contract with Neola Inc.

Consultants led the board through the bylaw templates step by step. One of the first discussions the group had was about how the bylaws define a "parent."

"We've just done a new policy," said board member Bob Gause. "We want to make sure we're not conflicting with the policy we just adopted. We added a few more descriptors as to who the parent is."

The Neola representatives agreed the two should be consistent.

Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner pointed out that statutes can change and including the statutes can risk having them become outdated. But having the statutes in the language offers the public more transparency, Young said.

The district's contract with Neola also includes a twice-a-year look at the bylaws to make sure statutory changes are taken into account and updated.

"It's nice we don't have to create a department to do that," said board chair Julie Aranibar.

Friday's meeting was the first workshop. The board, district officials and Neola will continue to work on the bylaws and other sections of the board's written policies and procedures.

"We will work with you until you say we are done," Young told the board.

Charlie Kennedy, who was elected in August to take over board member Barbara Harvey's seat when she retires in November, was in attendance, along with other district officials. Mary Cantrell, who is challenging current board chair Julie Aranibar for the District 5 seat, was not in attendance.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.