Education & Government
Jennifer Rose Hale Image
Jennifer Rose Hale
Former Client Partner, Texas Association of School Boards

How school boards can make policy management more efficient

September 4, 2023
0 min read
How school boards can make policy management more efficient

The policy management process is one of the most complex and important responsibilities of the school board. At any given time, school board members are receiving new policy requirements from state and federal policymakers, uncovering new trends and needs that require a policy response, and working on updates and revisions to potentially several generations of policy.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and when dealing with the rules that govern your schools’ leadership, staff and students, the process must be effective and efficient. Take a fresh look at effectiveness in school policy management, and then continue reading how boards can improve efficiency.

Effectiveness vs. efficiency

Can a school board’s policy process be effective without being efficient? These two concepts, effectiveness and efficiency, are often tied together when evaluating impact — they even sound similar — and while they describe different ideas, they go hand in hand.

A Forbes piece for entrepreneurs puts it this way: “In simple terms, effectiveness is about people and efficiency is about systems and processes. Being effective is a matter of engagement, (while) being efficient is a matter of trying to do things better, faster and cheaper. In other words, it’s not actually about creating anything, but instead streamlining the process of what has already been created.”

Both concepts matter to school boards in the policy management process, but a board that has concrete ways to evaluate its own effectiveness may still struggle with how efficiently it manages the running of its schools. In an ongoing series about policy management, we’re looking at the many factors around school policy.

Why efficiency matters when managing school policies

There are a number of reasons school boards should consider improvements to efficiency when they are measuring their own effectiveness.

First, as noted earlier, policies can require frequent and rapid change, and school boards must be nimble in their response. In recent years, school districts have had to reexamine school safety and social media policies, as well as adapt to increased scrutiny on classroom curricula and resources.

These issues, which are being debated on both the state and community levels, require school board members to walk a fine line of adhering to state policy while best representing local interests. In addition, boards must be confident they can access previous versions of policies if an issue that spans months or years should arise.

Board members undertake these processes while pressed for time — most are volunteers — and while working with numerous individuals who contribute to the policy process, including administrators, executive assistants, legal counsel and other staff.

How policy management can be supported with technology

Workflow and document management — two key elements of effective policy development and management — have undergone a revolution in recent years. Modern, quality board management software can help a school board manage policies effectively in several ways.

Clear workflows

New and revised policies often have to go through several roles during development, from administrators to legal counsel to quality assurance or proofing to the board. Relying on granular communications can add uncertainty and inconsistency to the process, leaving teams asking themselves if the legal review took place or whether a particular contributor got a copy.


School policies are never one-and-done — any contributor editing the fourth version of a policy for discussion can attest to this. That's why ensuring that changes can be made easily while accessing previous versions of a document is essential. This applies to supporting documents as well: edited reports, previous years’ data and more. Being able to have documentation ordered neatly without having to sift through multiple documents in a network folder, for example, is a big time-saver and ensures peace of mind.

Automated notifications

Waiting for a contributor to take their required step can be frustrating, especially so when the team doesn’t have a clear, consistent way of communicating steps, responsibilities and deadlines. Having automated notifications that inform the next contributor that it’s their turn minimizes that frustration and ensures the process keeps moving.

Consistency of presentation

Materials used by the board — and especially those presented to the public — should have a singular, official look. Beyond what’s in the content, the appearance of documents conveys whether material is credible and official. Using templates in board management software ensures the district logo, contact information, dates, page numbers and other important information appear consistently across related documents. Giving users confidence in what they’re seeing will save time in trying to verify the materials.

Single source of truth

Board management software provides one system for all audiences — the board, staff and the public — to access information related to district oversight. This can include the sources of information the boards themselves use in decision-making, such as links to legislative information, news, data sources and more. By providing this single source of truth, board management software saves time that board members and others would spend tracking down information.

Additionally, a single source of truth is invaluable when confirming what version of a policy was in place during a specific period of time. When addressing grievances, which can take months or even years to resolve, board members and the community must understand which policy was relevant when the grievance was filed.

Next steps for improving efficiency in policy management

When discussing efficiency improvements, the same words come up: time, waiting, frustration, doubt. Every school district has improvements it can make in the efficiency of its policy process, and even a district that has been honing its processes for years can experience issues.

Boards and administrators should begin by having an honest evaluation of where their policy-making process could use improvement.

Every school board needs an effective policy process, and technology can make it possible. We at Diligent understand the needs of the modern school board, and the Diligent Community Policy Publisher is specially designed to make your board’s policy management and adoption even more streamlined.


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