Policy FAQ's

What is the difference between board policies and administrative regulations?

Policies are guidelines adopted by the board to chart a course of action. They tell what the board wants and may include why and how much. They should be broad enough to admit discretionary action by the administration in meeting day-to-day problems and yet specific enough to give clear guidance. Administrative regulations provide the detailed guidelines by which the staff, students and patrons carry out the daily operations of the school. They typically provide answers for the who, where, when and how type of questions that policy doesn't specifically provide.

Why do we need written policies if we have good administrators?

The individuals involved in your district will gradually change, whether they are administrators, staff, parents, or students. There is no substitute for written policy in the eyes of the courts and in the ends that policy can accomplish, such as to:

  • maintain continuity and consistency, and foster stability.
  • clarify board/superintendent relations and provide guidance for the superintendent.
  • lend legitimacy to board actions.
  • allow the board and administration to operate in a more efficient manner.
  • provide the basis for a legal record.

Why can't we omit the regulations and put all the information into the policies?

Policies must be formally adopted, revised or approved by the board in its role as the properly elected representatives of the voters. Policy should deal with broad issues of the proper governance and operation of the school in ways that provide continuity for the district. Regulations, by the simple necessity of their detailed provisions, are generally delegated to the superintendent and the administrative team to be kept current in a quickly-changing legal, educational and social environment. The regulations may be reviewed by the board when they are initially created or revised, but it is understood that responsibility has been delegated to the superintendent to revise the detailed rules in keeping with board policies as change occurs.

What is included in the category of administrative regulations?

Some regulations may be included along with the policies in the board manual or in an accompanying binder. Staff and student handbooks are also considered a part of the school's administrative regulations, as well as more specialized documents such as coaches' handbooks, special education guides, and the many forms used in transmitting information between the district and its employees, students and patrons.

Why is the NASB Policy Reference Manual so big?

The Policy Reference Manual is intended as a resource for districts to use when questions arise regarding many areas of governance and school law. About 75 percent of the manual is considered basic "core" policies that most boards and administrators would consider crucial to effective day-to-day district operations. The remaining policies may be included if the board and superintendent feel they are useful in setting forth expectations for operations of the district. In addition, many districts have policies meeting their individual operational needs for which we have not created model policies.

Why don't we just adopt the Policy Reference Manual as our own board manual?

It is important that a board's policy manual reflect the expectations of its local community and board, and that each policy has been examined with respect to the question of whether this is how the district will actually operate. It is not enough to have sound, legal policies. They must also be followed.

For more information please contact:

Jim Luebbe - jluebbe@NASBonline.org
Nebraska Association of School Boards
1311 Stockwell Street - Lincoln, NE 68502


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