Overhaul of Pawtucket school policies nearing completion

Overhaul of Pawtucket school policies nearing completion

PAWTUCKET – School officials are now only a handful of policies away from completing an overhaul of the Pawtucket School Department’s policy manual.

The more than 200 policies, many of which have not been updated since 1965, have now been reviewed, brought into line with current practices and made available online.

Erin Dube, vice chairwoman of the school board and head of the policy subcommittee, said the biggest changes made over the past three years of work include:

• Transportation: Increasing busing to include middle school, after looking at how the district could be smarter about busing and shifting some start times to use one bus for two or three routes, also known as tier busing. That change came about after several months of work between the policy subcommittee and transportation provider.

• Homework: Giving teachers, the “educational experts,” more flexibility to use homework as they see fit instead of having a one-size-fits-all approach.

• Core beliefs and commitments: One of the first policies tackled back in 2015 was this school board’s governance policy. The revamped policy now displayed on the board’s web page governs how the board approaches all other policies.

On a whole, school officials have also worked to clean up language, reduce redundancy, and ensure that they “have policy and not procedure in this manual,” said Dube. The work takes a lot of time, she said, and many school boards hire consultants to do it. The reality is that all policy change needs to be approved by the committee anyway, she said, “so a consultant can be costly while not actually reducing much of the work.”

By March, the committee should be able to say that every policy in the manual has been reviewed and approved in the past three years. Most importantly, said Dube, all information is now available online at https://tinyurl.com/y8624z4t instead of being filed away in folders.

Updating the School Department’s website, which Dube proposed and tackled with the school technology department back in 2015, was an important element in the policy overhaul. That work was also done completely in house, with no cost incurred.

“Our policy subcommittee will continue to function as needed for new policies and to be in line with one of the first policies we drafted: We will have an annual review of the policy manual to ensure it stays up to date,” said Dube.