July 29, 2015

Policy updates dominate school board agenda

By Annette Tait
The Center-Stanton School Board began the 2015-2016 academic year with efforts to put its figurative house in order before school starts. After the board voted Loren Henke into the board president seat and elected Rick Schmidt as vice president, Henke, Schmidt, returning member Stacey Olander and newly elected members Cassandra DuMond and Scott Jaeger went to work on tackling a full agenda, a large portion of which was devoted to updating school policies.
In total, 10 policies were revised, rescinded, or newly proposed during the July 20 meeting, with first readings of policies that were either newly proposed or proposed to replace rescinded policies. Two policies were revised for clarification. Language was added to the school year and calendar policy to specifically state that make-up days for weather or other emergency situations will be included in the calendar, a practice that is already in place. The executive session policy was revised to clarify that subcommittees of the board, as well as the board itself, may hold executive sessions as permitted by law. Both revised policies were approved.
Four policies were rescinded, with proposed replacement policies provided for board review and discussion. The superintendent recruitment and appointment, hiring executive staff, and recruiting and hiring teachers policies were all updated to include veteran’s preference requirement language in compliance with state law. Language relating to definitions and the screening process was also clarified. The carrying weapons policy – prohibiting students from possessing weapons on school property – was revised to simplify and clarify terminology used in the policy. The board approved the first readings of all four replacement policies.
“The difference [between revising a policy and rescinding and replacing it] relates to how much a policy has been changed. When there are too many changes, the policy has to be replaced and go through the reading process,” CSPS Superintendent Curt Pierce said. “Some had some significant changes, particularly the superintendent, administration, and teacher hiring policies had to include veteran preference information. That’s why they were rescinded and rewritten.”
Four new policies were provided to the board for members’ consideration: student publications, administrative suspension, weapons prohibition-employees, and weapons prohibition-public. The first two new policies address potential concerns not previously included in the policy manual. The two weapons policy additions were made at the recommendation of the North Dakota School Boards Association, to augment the student weapons policy. The first readings of all four new policies were also approved.
“The school boards association recommended inclusion of the other two [weapons policies], so they are in more than one section of the policy manual,” Pierce said, “and apply to all individuals who come onto school property.”

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