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School district moving ahead with 'policy governance'

Policy Governance is moving forward in the South Kitsap School District.

Through this operations model, a district’s board of directors consults the community to establish “ends,” or long-term, detailed policies for its schools.

The Policy Governance concept was developed by John Carver to help board of directors to decide on “ends” rather than “means” to achieve its goals.

It also establishes limitations on managerial “means” for its chief executive — superintendent Dave LaRose in SKSD — and delegates achieving its ends to him.

Advocates say the model provides a structured policy, creates further interaction between board members and the community and curtails micromanaging.

SKSD board president Patty Henderson agreed.

She said Policy Governance, which she hopes is implemented in time for the 2010-11 school year, will change typical board meetings to a climate where there is more dialogue between her colleagues and the community as they shape the district’s vision.

But Policy Governance also has received criticism for giving superintendents too much power.

“I couldn’t disagree more,” said Henderson, adding that she believes the new model would be more restrictive of LaRose. “We list what he cannot do. He’s free within those limitations to do what he feels is the right thing to get to our ends; our goals.”

She said LaRose would be subject to a monthly report on how the district’s goals are coming together rather than the twice-yearly reviews he now receives.

SKSD is not alone in viewing Policy Governance as an organizational model. The North Mason School District already has adopted it, while the North Kitsap School District is looking at implementing it.

Henderson said SKSD is only in the beginning of developing its policies and Policy Governance will be a prominent topic in several future board meetings.

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