by Karen Gray – Nevada Policy Research Institute
Did the Clark County School Board 10 years ago abandon its own authority?
For a decade, the board has stiff-armed critics of Policy Governance®, the peculiar, trademarked governing model under which the board can do no more than pass general written policies, to which the district superintendent can then apply any reasonable interpretation he chooses.
Beyond those general principles, the superintendent is then “authorized to establish all further policies, make all decisions, take all actions, establish all practices, and develop all activities.”
Critics have long argued that Policy Governance gives too much authority to the superintendent while providing little accountability in return, and amounts to trustees abdicating their responsibilities as public stewards.
Trustees, on the other hand, contend that Policy Governance increases accountability to the board through monitoring reports, while keeping the board from getting caught up in day-to-day operations.
“Before [Policy Governance], we debated the kind of quality of flooring,” said Trustee Sheila Moulton in an April presentation on the subject. “We spent a lot of time talking about the color of tiles. I remember discussing, clearly, what kind of carpet we were going to put in.”
After 10 years of the trustees distancing themselves from district operations, the public can rest assured trustees will no longer spend time debating the color of tile. Indeed, it now appears that trustees are so accustomed to relinquishing decisions to the superintendent that they don’t even inspect contracts before signing them.