Minneapolis school board members dove into revamping the policy manual that governs the entire school district Wednesday, aiming to chisel it down to focus its goals. More work and discussions from the board and Superintendent Ed Graff will come in the following weeks and months.
Board policy committee chair Josh Reimnitz led discussion around the drafted policy manual. Work on the policy manual started in approximately November, after a feeling that the board didn’t have a strong sense of governance, he said.
Wednesday was the second day of the board and Graff's retreat and followed their Tuesday meeting in the Theodore Wirth Park Chalet, when they examined the district's strategic plan.
The revisions aim to help the board prioritize the most important pieces, make decisions and craft roles and expectations for the superintendent and board.
The draft policy is 19 pages long, where the current one is hundreds, Reimnitz said.
The board's policy committee, which includes Reimnitz, vice chair Kim Ellison and members Tracine Asberry and Don Samuels, crafted the draft in the winter and spring. Community groups gave feedback on it around the end of the school year.
Board members voiced suggestions and tweaks to the draft policy. One member, treasurer Rebecca Gagnon, said she was struggling with the process behind creating the draft.
"This is board-level conversation, full-board conversation, from the beginning," she said.
Getting the agreement of people not in the room during policy work can always be challenging, said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, who facilitated the discussion on both days.
A new policy will be voted on after more board and superintendent discussion and another opportunity for community feedback, Reimnitz said.
The discussion turned optimistic in a couple points during the final day of the two-day retreat. Board member Carla Bates said the board should remember its history.
“We need to respect the work that we’ve done, recognize that we have made huge mistakes and then go, ‘OK, you know, where are we going to go from here?’” she said.
The board has a reason to celebrate after the foundation it has laid, Casserly said at the culmination of the retreat.