BRADENTON -- Employees and the rules governing them took a back seat to semantics Monday as the school board started work to overhaul its outdated human resources policies.
The distinction between the "school board" and the "school district" became a sticking point, as the board grappled with how to address the distinction for more than 30 minutes. The school district is the geographical boundaries that make up the area governed by the school board, which is the legally defined entity. But the term school district is colloquially used, and having the word district in the policies -- in cases where board may be more appropriate -- may cause confusion, board members argued.
"People do in their minds differentiate, they think of the district as this building," board chair Bob Gause said, referencing the downtown building, where the superintendent and administrative staff work.
"I think it's safe to say that wherever relevant, replace the word district with
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board. We can clarify it," said Rob Johnson, district director of planning and performance management, told the board during Monday's special workshop. The board is examining its human resources policies and procedures, as part of an effort to bring policies up to date.
At a meeting in July, the board approved a nearly $71,000 consulting contract with Neola Inc. to work with the board and staff to overhaul the policies, some of which are severely outdated.
The board has already looked at its own bylaws. On Monday the board began with the policies that govern human resources, which were split into three policy areas. The superintendent and administrative staff; instructional staff; and non-instructional staff.
In three-hours, four members of the board were unable to get through the first set of policies, which Gause said at the beginning of the meeting was to be expected. Board member Mary Cantrell was not at the meeting.
Superintendent Diana Greene said it would be her recommendation to combine the policy areas that separately deal with the instructional staff and non-instructional staff into one grouping.
"They're almost identical," Greene said.
But as board member Charlie Kennedy pointed out, there are some inconsistencies. For example, there were provisions in the non-instructional policies that dealt with a mother who was breastfeeding. The same provisions were not found in the policies for the administrative staff or the instructional staff.
It should be consistent across the board, Kennedy said.
None of the changes proposed Monday were final decisions. The staff will work on updating policies based on the board's direction. Once the discussions are finished, the board will have to vote the policies into place.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney