About Board Policy

Generally, the role of a Board of Trustees is to set policy and the role of the administration is to execute it. Here is the basic distinction as set forth by the National School Boards Association.

Policies are principles adopted by a board to chart a course of action. They tell what is wanted and may include also why and how much. They are broad enough to indicate a line of action to be taken by the administration in meeting a number of day-to-day problems; they need to be narrow enough to give the administration clear guidance.

Regulations are the detailed directions developed to put policy into practice. They tell how, by whom, where, and when things are to be done.

These definitions are serviceable most of the time. They reflect sound theory of government and administration. But the real world does not always conform. For example:

Often the state and federal governments require boards of education to make detailed rules; and many regulations are established by law or by the state department of education.

A board also signs many contracts and agreements that incorporate rules and regulations. There is no distinction in these documents between policy and rules, yet all the details become, in effect, mandated board of trustees' policy.

Additionally, the public may demand that the board itself, not the administration, establish the specific rules and procedures in certain sensitive areas.

As long as the administration operates within the policies and regulations of the board, it may issue such implementing regulations and procedures as may be necessary and desirable.

Is the Manual Complete?

No. The manual contains all of the current written policies of the board to date. But continually, the need for putting additional statements in writing, for adopting new ones, and revising old ones become apparent. Additionally, state education law and federal requirements change.

No matter how well conceived and well-developed, a policy manual can never be 100 percent complete and up-to-date. Policy development is a continuing process, so from time to time new policies, regulations, and reference documents will be developed, coded according to the classification system, and issued for insertion in the manual.

Order of precedence.

The Board of Trustees' policies and regulations, as well as negotiated agreements with staff bargaining units, must be read and interpreted in light of the Washington statutes and state education regulations. Wherever inconsistencies of interpretation arise, the law and state regulations prevail.