Policy and Procedure Development and Discussion
Halifax Regional School Board
The Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) pos...
Besides lack of brevity, the policy also suffers from some obvious contradictions and exclusions.
For example, the policy ...
Assuming that attendance falls under this improvement umbrella, this policy aligns well with such a
vision. In light of th...
repercussions are not discussed. HRSB must also preserve its neutrality and distance from political,
business, or other en...
The four policies reviewed are serviceable documents. A common strength among these policies
is their connectio...
Halifax Regional School Board (2008-2009). 2012-2013 General Fund Business Plan & Budget.
Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb....
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Published on: Mar 4, 2016

Transcripts - PolicyAssessmentHRSB

  • 1. Policy and Procedure Development and Discussion Halifax Regional School Board The Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) positions student learning as its top priority (HRSB, Learning,2012, para. 1). In order to support this focus, the board has developed 66 policies that cover six categories: Board Governance and Operations, School Administration, Program, Human Resource Services, Financial Services, and Community Relations. Overall, the policies are suitable, clear,and accurate. The use of scientific notion, headings, and subheadings to divide elements supports comprehension. School Administration and Human Resource Services are two of the most integral components of a well-functioning school board. As such, two policies from each of these sections are examined below. A critical analysis found some weaknesses that are policy-specific and strengths that are common across all four policies. B.013 Regional Code of Conduct Some of the most significant obstacles to student learning are behavioural issues. As such, it is important to examine policy B.013, Regional Code of Conduct,a policy under the umbrella of School Administration which outlines guidelines for student conduct including expectations, preventative measures,and consequences for poor conduct. Policy B.013 presents guidelines for conduct within schools under the board’s jurisdiction including the roles and responsibilities of all member groups, the promotion of appropriate behaviours, and the ranges of approved (and forbidden) actions to address inappropriate behaviours. In general, the policy is comprehensive and well organized using headings and subheadings presented in scientific notation. The preamble section addresses the school board’s generalapproach to conduct including their commitment to a philosophy that supports a “proactive approach to discipline,” an approach that is evident throughout the policy (HRSB, Regional Code of Conduct,2006, p.1). This policy suffers most from a lack of brevity. Including appendices, it is a 22 page document. While it is important to address all issues and players involved in matters of conduct, 22 pages are too many to be effectively read and absorbed. There are a number of places where the policy could be tightened. Section 4 on guiding principles, for example, could be combined with the preamble section as their contents overlap. Pages 8 to 18 include two tables that outline categories of offences,descriptions of offences,proactive strategies for prevention, and ranges of possible consequences. There is a lot of repetition in the tables and some of the offences and punishments could be combined for brevity’s sake. Alternatively, since the tables need only be consulted for specific offences when they occur and not read in their entirety every time the policy is consulted, the generalized discussion of offences and consequences in the preceding pages could be tightened or eliminated entirely.
  • 2. Besides lack of brevity, the policy also suffers from some obvious contradictions and exclusions. For example, the policy forbids “the use of academic work as a disciplinary procedure,” and then suggests a “research project on harmful effects of tobacco use” as a punishment for tobacco use on school property (pp. 6, 8). Several times throughout the document, statements are made indicating that “strategies will be developed” (p.5) or member groups will be involved in the development of codes of conduct (pp. 2-3). However,there is no reference to how these goals will be reached,how often codes of conduct will be changed, and so forth. A link to another policy or guidelines for implementation of these vague statements would greatly enhance the policy. Pages 19-22 are labelled “Halifax Regional School Board Code of Conduct Procedures,” but the contents only outline the processes relating to suspension. The policy attempts to provide a clear delineation between policies and procedures, but the delineation is not entirely accurate. Many of the preceding pages of policy are peppered with references to procedures such as the possible punishments presented in the tables from page 8-18. The final role of the school board, section 5.1.3, is to “ensure that [the] policy is reviewed at least every five years” (p.2). Ironically, the policy was last revised in 2006 and there is no indication on the website that the policy is currently under review. B.019 High School Attendance The High School Attendance policy’s centralmessage is that attendance impacts learning and achievement. This policy empowers school administrators to manage attendance for their particular school. While encouraging school-based solutions for ensuring high attendance,this policy offers a clear framework to guide administrators with their decision-making. The attendance policy includes a detailed list of procedures that schools must follow as they develop attendance strategies. For example, these procedures define the attendance terms including present,special circumstance absence,suspension, excused absence,and unexcused absence. Additionally, this policy outlines the responsibilities of different stakeholders for ensuring regular attendance including the School Board Attendance Committee, superintendent, school administrators, teachers,students, and parents/guardians. One notable weakness of this policy is that it does not address the penalties or repercussions for students who fail to abide by the school’s attendance policy. Punitive measures for absenteeism are addressed in the Regional Code of Conduct policy; a reference to the appropriate section of this policy would be very beneficial. This policy directly relates to the HRSB’s mission of ensuring that students develop a “passion for learning” and “achieving personal success” (HRSB, 2012-2013 General Fund BusinessPlan and Budget, 2012, p. 5). An attendance policy is necessary for schools to implement strategies that maximize attendance in order to teach students the value of lifelong learning. Additionally, the HRSB has a (somewhat vague) vision that seeks to improve every school by 2012-2013 (HRSB, About Us,2012).
  • 3. Assuming that attendance falls under this improvement umbrella, this policy aligns well with such a vision. In light of these goals, it does seem strange that the policy only targets the high school level and does not address attendance at elementary or junior high schools. While this policy is certainly fit for purpose for high schools as the title indicates, it could be argued that it has a broader application to lower- level schools. The introductory sentence clearly expresses the importance of attendance for student achievement so the reader is left wondering why it is restricted to the high school level. Nevertheless,this policy is very necessary for both the success of the HRSB and for the success of students. Overall, the attendance policy is well-written, logically organized, and appropriately clear and brief. A clear differentiation between the policy statements and procedures has been established and each of these sections are preceded by a table of contents. The policy is subdivided into concise policy statements that deal with specific issues directly related to student attendance. This section is followed by a much more detailed list of procedures and statement of responsibilities. Each section consistently includes a relevant subheading and is clearly divided by scientific notation. This policy could be stronger if it provided reference materialfor its readers. For example, the policy refers to various acts and bodies such as the Nova Scotia Education Act, the Public School Program, the School Advisory Council, and the HRSB Attendance Committee all of which may be of interest to various stakeholders. D.005 Secondary Employment Within the Human Resources section are nine HRSB policies which address issues pertaining to the board’s staff. The Secondary Employment policy, approved in 1997, addresses employees working outside of their positions at HRSB and states that the employee's primary obligation is to HRSB (HRSB, Secondary Employment,1997, p.1). It defines secondary employment as “[e]mployment with an employer other than Halifax Regional School Board, including self-employment” (p.1). As the board's primary goal is the education of young people, it is reasonable to expect employees to be committed to their role in serving that aim. Additionally, as the school board is an elected government body, it is important that there is no appearance of bias or activity that could sully the board's reputation or that of the school system generally. This policy also stresses the need for employees to represent themselves accurately and not to act in a way that may appear as though they are acting on behalf of the HRSB (p. 2). Again, this speaks to the board's need to maintain accountability and preserve its reputation. This policy is necessary because the work schedules of many teachers and other HRSB employees can often accommodate secondary employment. The HRSB must ensure it is providing the best quality education for its students and that employees’ secondary employment is not diminishing the level of education delivered. The board also must have recourse should an employee put the HRSB in a compromising position where there is a conflict of interest or the appearance of one, though penalties and
  • 4. repercussions are not discussed. HRSB must also preserve its neutrality and distance from political, business, or other endeavours. The policy addresses all issues related to secondary employment and is therefore fit for purpose. The Secondary Employment policy itself is one very clear and well-written sentence using plain language. Using scientific notation, the procedural guidelines are subdivided into three categories - conditions that would prohibit secondary employment, conditions for employees who have secondary employment, and possible requirement of notifying the secondary employer that the employee's secondary employment is “in no way authorized, endorsed or supported by Halifax Regional School Board” (p. 3). Each of these sections is further segmented with detailed descriptions of each statement. The pagination clearly indicates which page the reader is on and the total number of pages,three. The demarcation of guidelines is clear and the policy itself is prominently identified. As this policy addresses a relatively simple issue, it is appropriately brief and concise. D.009 Diversity Management The HRSB has committed itself to ensuring an inclusive work environment through its Diversity Management policy (HRSB, Diversity Management,2007, p.1). The policy outlines the board’s aims to recruit, promote, and hire members of underrepresented groups and offers strategic approaches to do so. Furthermore, the policy requires that once hired, all employees are treated equally and without prejudice. The HRSB’s mission statement of ensuring that “each student develops passion … for building a harmonious global community” is supported by this policy (HRSB, 2012-2013 Draft General Fund Business Plan,2012, p.5). Overall, this policy is necessary,especially in a setting that can fall under intense public scrutiny. The foundation of the policy is the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act (HRSB, Diversity Management,2007, p. 1) and it further attempts to guarantee an environment in which no employee feels discriminated against. The purpose of the Diversity Management policy is clear and explicit in the preamble. Unlike the other policies reviewed, D.009 contains a section outlining accountability (p 3). The overall development of strategies relating to diversity are the responsibility of the Superintendent, while the implementation is shared by Board Services and human resources. In terms of clarity, this policy provides numerous definitions (pp. 2-3) to ensure that those involved understand all of the terms and objectives. Furthermore, the plan, goals and expected outcomes are clearly stated. In terms of brevity, this policy is a concise eight pages including two appendices: a workplace survey, and the actualdiversity management plan. The organizational structure,pagination, and notation are neat and concise as well.
  • 5. Conclusion The four policies reviewed are serviceable documents. A common strength among these policies is their connection to the HRSB’s mission statement. It is evident that each policy is in place to serve the board’s overarching aim to provide education to the young students in its charge. Moreover,each policy is clearly written in plain language, appropriately structured with scientific notation, and properly formatted with strategic pagination. These policies, however, could be improved in several areas. First, the table of contents in each policy does not include physical page numbers making it much more difficult to navigate through lengthy policies. Additionally, stronger use of supporting documents, either through clearer citations or hyperlinks to connect the reader directly to the original, would enhance the policies’ value. Finally, to improve accessibility, the policies should be provided in HTML format in addition to downloadable PDFs. As it stands, Halifax Regional School Board’s set of policies are comprehensive in coverage; however, implementing the suggested changes outlined above would improve their usability for stakeholders outside the board. References Halifax Regional School Board. (1997). Secondary Employment. Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/files/downloads/pdf/board/policy/sectiond/d.005-secondary- employment.pdf Halifax Regional School Board. (2006). Regional Code of Conduct. Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/files/Downloads/pdf/board/policy/sectionB/B.013-code-of-conduct.pdf Halifax Regional School Board. (2007). Diversity Management Policy.Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/files/Downloads/pdf/board/policy/sectionD/D.009-diversity-man agement.pdf Halifax Regional School Board. (2008). High School Attendance Policy. Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/files/downloads/pdf/board/policy/sectionb/b.019-attendance.pdf
  • 6. Halifax Regional School Board (2008-2009). 2012-2013 General Fund Business Plan & Budget. Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/files/Downloads/pdf/finance/budget/budget-business-plan- 08-09.pdf Halifax Regional School Board. (2012). Learning. Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/content/id/219.html Halifax Regional School Board. (2012). About Us. Retrieved from: http://www.hrsb.ns.ca/content/id/217.html

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