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Preliminary Master List of Terms for Indexing Board of Education Minutes

Anyone considering indexing minutes should develop a master list of terms before beginning to index. This master list contains the standard vocabulary that you will use in the index, and it is important to have a standardized vocabulary so that you always index the same subject by using the same term. Using standardized terms will also improve searches by directing users to one term instead of many terms. A master list of terms also includes cross-references directing users from non-standard terms to standard terms. This feature minimizes useless searches by directing users to the right term each time.

No matter what indexing approach you take, maintaining and using standardized terms will be useful to both the indexer and the users of the minutes. If you develop an index in database form, you will use the standardized terms when you enter data into this system. If you decide to use free-text searching software (which search for character strings in electronic versions of your minutes), you will use the standardized terms while writing the minutes. By conscientiously using your standard set of terms as you write, you can be sure you will be searching for the right word when you use free-text searching to find information in your minutes.

A master list of terms for an index consists of several authority lists:

  1. The subject heading list should include main and secondary subject terms that reflect the activities of your government or agency and the topics before it. Within this list, you should include formal names for any personnel positions, committees and boards, government properties, geographical features in the region (such a names of bridges, highways, roads), businesses, organizations, and government agencies. 

    The subject list should also include See and See also references, which ensure that the indexer can remain consistent and that the users can always find the information they need. These references work in two different ways. See references: A user might want to look up information related to finance by looking up "Finance" in the master list. But since "Finance" is not a standard term in this master list, the word is followed by the note "See Fiscal," which indicates that "Fiscal" is the official term that the searcher or indexer must use. See also references: A user might look up "Planning and Zoning" and discover a note to "See also Urban Renewal." This means that "Planning and Zoning" is still a standard indexing term, but that the user might also find useful information under the related term "Urban Renewal."

  2. The master list should include a list of actions before the board. Actions, which are explained below, are useful for two reasons. First, they help to isolate important discussions within the minutes. For example, someone reading and indexing the minutes will know that whenever an appointment is being made that this is an important action and should be indexed. Second, actions are another useful way for users to search for information. In an index kept in a database, a user can easily produce a list of all resolutions or all local laws, which are two separate types of actions. If using a text searching tool, you could achieve the same effect by consistently identifying resolutions in the text of your minutes with the word "Resolution."
  3. The master list should also include a list of departments or units within the government, noting the authorized name and any standard abbreviation used in the index or minutes. Many local governments find it useful to identify the department within the government that is most closely related to any action before the board. For the same reasons, state agencies may find it useful to develop lists of work units. In this way, any department can retrieve a list of board topics related to its own work. There is no list of departments or units included in this preliminary master list of terms, since this is an objective list that is easy to develop.

To help local governments develop their individual master list of terms, the State Archives has drafted a preliminary master list of terms for use by school districts and BOCES. This list represents those subjects that are frequent concerns of school districts. You should use this list as a starting place and add headings that you decide you need and eliminate subjects that are of no use to you. Occasionally, you may decide to use a different official term that will be more familiar to the users of your minutes. You will need to add the names of committees, boards, local businesses, organizations, and properties as well. Nevertheless, the list can be of great value to you-not only for the headings included, but also because it shows you how to incorporate additional subjects, secondary subjects and cross-references into your master list.

This preliminary list master of terms consists of three sections:

  1. Standardized terms for actions before a local government's board.
  2. & 3. Main and secondary subject headings.

1. Actions

You can make your index more useful by maintaining information on the type of actions that take place during the course of a meeting. Tracking actions can provide another way for people to search for information and can be a helpful way for indexers to identify what information in the minutes is important enough to index.

Below are some suggested actions, along with descriptions of when to use each. Use "Disapproval" for any motion that is not approved by the board. For all other actions, assume that the action has been approved or received by the board. To make the index as useful as possible, be sure to use the most specific terms possible whenever you have a choice between two actions. As with any part of this master list of terms, you should modify this list to suit your own needs.

Appointment. Use for official appointments of people to government positions.

Bond resolution. Use for any approved bond resolution, if you decide you need to track these separately.

Complaint. Use for any complaints received, whether received via discussion or correspondence.

Correspondence. Use for any cases where the board receives or sends a letter, including petitions from the public but not including complaints.

DisapprovalUse for any motion that is declined, rescinded, or not approved, if you decide to index these actions.

Discussion. Use for any cases that are merely discussions of a topic, ending in no formal decision.

Executive sessionUse for cases where the board goes into executive session. In such cases, you can provide only minimal information on the subject related to the action.

Other actionUse for any actions that do not fit any of the descriptions of the other actions on this list; this is the "miscellaneous" category for actions.

Public hearingUse for any formal public hearing.

Report. Use for any reports presented to the board by departments or committees.

ResolutionUse for those cases where the board formally expresses a particular opinion or takes a specific action.

Tabled. Use for situations where the board postponed making a decision on an issue.

2. & 3. Main and Secondary Subjects

The following is a suggested list of main subject headings that includes secondary subjects as well. Please note that many common secondary subjects do not appear in this list, but are included in the list of common ones above. You should integrate whatever secondary subjects from above into this list. Also, note that many but not all possible positions in municipal government are included in this list, always followed by "(Position)" after the title. You will need to add any other positions into this list, as well as other necessary subject terms.

Accidents and Injuries


Adult Education. See Curriculum

Affirmative Action

Agreements. See Contracts and Agreements or Personnel

Aide, Teachers (Position)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Annual Report. See subject of annual report

Anticipation Notes. See Fiscal

Assistant Superintendent (Position)

Associations. See Conference or specific topic


At-Risk Students. See Students


Attendance Officer (Position)

Attorney, School District (Position)

Audits, Performance. See subject of audit

Auto Mechanic (Position)

Banking. See Fiscal

BAN (Bond Anticipation Notes). See Fiscal

Benefits. See Personnel

Bills. See Fiscal

Bids. See subject of bid

Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES)

Board of Education

Boards. See specific function or name of board

Board Member (Position)

Bond Anticipation Notes. See Fiscal

Bonding. See Personnel, Bonding

Bonds and Notes. See Fiscal

Bonds, Performance

Bonds, Surety

Bookkeeper (Position)

Boundaries, School District

Budgets. See Fiscal

Building, Reconstruction. See Public Property

Building Safety. See Safety

Buildings. See Public Property

Bus Driver (Position)

Bus Leases. See Transportation

Bus Purchase Options. See Transportation

Buses. See Transportation

Business Manager (Position)

Business Office (Position)

Cafeteria Manager (Position)

Cafeteria. See Food Services


Cancellation, School. See Policy


Certification, Teacher. See Personnel, Certification

Chairperson, Department (Position)

Change in Title. See Personnel

Civil Defense

Civil Service. See Personnel

Civil Service Employees Association. See Labor Unions

Class Trips. See also Field Trips

Clerk (Position)

Clerk, District (Position)

Closing of Roadways. See Transportation

Clubs. See Extracurricular

Coach (Position)

Cocurricular. See Extracurricular

Code of Conduct. See Policy and Procedures

Collective Bargaining. See Labor Unions

Colleges & Universities



Commencement. See also Graduation

Commissions. See specific topic or name of commission

Committees. See specific topic or name of committee

Community Activities

Compensation. See Personnel

Complaints. See subject of complaint


Internet Services 


Association of School Business Officials
School Boards Association 
Training (Use for non-annual training events)

Consultants. See specific function

Construction. See Public Property

Contingency Fund. See Fiscal

Contingent Budget. See Fiscal

Continuing Education. See specific department or course of study

Contracts and Agreements. See specific function

Cook (Position)

Copier. See Office Operations


Adult Education 
Course Approval
Distance Learning 
Driver's Education 
Evening Programs 
Remedial Education Specific name, e.g., music, physical education, English 
Vocational Education

Custodial Service. See Public Property, Janitorial & Maintenance Services

Custodian (Position)

DARE. See Drug Abuse Programs

Deeds. See Public Property

Delay, School. See Policy

Departments. See specific position

Disabilities. See Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Disadvantaged Pupils. See Students


Lyme Disease 

Discipline, Staff. See Personnel

Discipline, Student. See Students

Dismissals. See Personnel

District Clerk (Position)

Doctor, District (Position)

Donations. See subject of donation

Drug Abuse Programs

Drug Free Schools
Drug Policy 
DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)


Elementary Schools

Employee Agreements. See Labor Unions

Employee Handbook. See Personnel

Employment Certificates. See Personnel or Students

Equipment. See Office Operations

Evening Programs. See Curriculum

Expenditures. See Fiscal


Extracurricular Activities. See also Specific department, club, or Cocurricular, e.g., Band

Facilities Planning

Federal Aid. See Income, Federal Aid

Federal Programs. See also Income, Federal Aid and See specific program or function

Field Trips. See also Class Trips

Finance. See Fiscal

Fire Safety


Fiscal. See also Income

Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs)
Bonds and Notes 
Budget, Contingent 
Consulting Services 
Contingency Fund 
General Fund
Payroll. See also Personnel, Salary and Wages 
Petty Cash
Revenue Anticipation Notes (RANs) 
Revenue Sharing 
Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs) 
Transfer of Funds

Food Service Worker (Position)

Food Services

School Lunch Program

Freedom of Information Law, NYS (FOIL)

Open Meeting Law 
Public Records Access

Free and Reduced Meals

General Fund. See Fiscal

Gifts and Memorials. See Fiscal, Donations or Commemorations


Grants. See specific function or program

Grievance. See Labor Unions

Grounds. See Public Property


Guidance Counselor (Position)

Handicapped. See Americans with Disabilities Act

Head Custodian (Position)

Head Start Program. See Preschool Programs

Health Insurance. See Insurance

Health Services

Dental Hygiene

Hearings. See subject of hearing

High School

Holidays. See Calendar

Income. See also Federal Programs

Federal Aid 
Sale of Property
State Aid.
Special Education 
Taxation. See Tax, School 

Injuries. See Accidents and Injuries

Inservice Training. See Personnel, Training


Inspector, Election (Position)

Insurance. See also Personnel

Workers' Compensation

Investments. See Fiscal

Janitorial Services. See Public Property. Janitorial and Maintenance Services

Junior High School


Labor Unions

Collective Bargaining 
Employee Agreements 
Specific name of Union. E.g., CSEA

Learning Disability Program. See Special Education

Leases. See subject of lease

Leave of Absence. See Personnel

Legal Counsel (Position)

Legal Notices

Legislation. See specific topic

Legal Opinions. See specific topic

Library Media Specialist (Position)


Lighting. See Public Property

Litigation. See specific topic or litigant

Loans. See Fiscal

Maintenance and Improvements. See specific topic

Maintenance Mechanic (Position)

Medical Insurance. See Insurance

Merit Pay. See Personnel

Microfilm. See Records Management

Middle School

Mileage. See Personnel

Negotiations. See Labor Unions


Nonpublic Schools

Nurse (Position)

Office Operations. See also Computers

Storage Equipment

Opinions of Commissioner. See specific topic

Parent-Teachers Association


Payroll. See Fiscal

Pensions. See Personnel, Retirement Plans

Performance Bond. See Bonds, Performance


Change in Title 
Civil Service
Deferred Compensation 
Drug and Alcohol Testing Program 
Employee Benefits 
Employee Handbook 
Insurance. See Insurance
Interns and Volunteers
Leaves of Absence 
Meal Allowance 
Merit Pay 
Mileage Allowance 
Performance Appraisal
Reimbursement of Expenses
Salary and Wages. See also Fiscal, Payroll 
Workers' Compensation

Petty Cash. See Fiscal


Playgrounds. See Public Property

Policy and Procedures. See also specific topic

Substance Abuse
School Cancellation 
School Delays 
School Uniforms 
Code of Conduct

Preschool, Programs

Head Start Program

Principal (Position)

Principal, Assistant (Position)


Professional Services. See subject of the service

Property. See Public Property

Psychologist, School (Position)

Public Property

Athletic Fields
Building Sites 
Equipment and Furnishings 
Fixed Asset Management 
Janitorial and Maintenance Services 
Rental of Property
Specific name of property, e.g., Public School No. 23, Empire Middle School, Empire High School 

Public Relations

Purchases. See subject of purchase

Racial Imbalance

RANs (Revenue Anticipation Notes). See Fiscal

Records, Access. See Freedom of Information Law

Records Access Officer (Position)

Records Management

Records Disposition 
Records Storage

Records Management Officer (Position)


Referendum. See topic of referendum

Registration. See Students

Religious Holidays. See Calendar

Remedial Education. See Curriculum

Rental. See specific subject of rental

Rental. See subject of rental

Reorganization, District

Repairs. See Public Property or name of specific building

Resignations. See Personnel, Separations

Retirement. See Personnel

Revenue Anticipation Notes. See Fiscal

Revenue. See Income

Sabbatical Leave. See Personnel


Building Security 
Crossing Guards 
Traffic Patterns

Salary and Wages. See Personnel, Salary and Wages


School Lunch Program. See Food Services

Schools. See specific name of school

Secretary (Position)

Separations. See Personnel


Sick Leave. See Personnel

Sites, Possible School. See Public Property, Building Sites

Snow and Ice Removal

Social Work Service

State Aid. See Income, State Aid

Student Government

Social Worker (Position)

Speech Therapist (Position)

Students. See also Health Services

At-Risk Students 
Work Permits

Substitute Teacher (Position)

Special Education

Emotionally Disturbed 
Physically Handicapped 
Hearing Impaired 
Learning Disabled 
Speech Therapy

Summer School

Substitute Teacher (Position)

Superintendent Buildings and Grounds (Position)

Superintendent (Position)

Superintendent of Schools (Position)

Surety Bonds. See Bonds, Surety

Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs). See Fiscal

Tax Collector (Position)

Tax Exemption

Tax, Real Property

Equalization Rates 

Teacher Certification. See Personnel, Certification

Teacher (Position)


Tenure. See Personnel

Terminations. See Personnel




Training, Staff. See Personnel


Bus Leases 
Bus Purchase Options
Closing of Roadways

Transportation Supervisor (Position)


Treasurer (Position)

Treasurer, District (Position)

Tuition. See Income, Tuition


Unemployment Insurance. See Insurance

Uniforms. See specific department, Policy and Procedures or Extracurricular

Unions. See Labor Unions

Vacations. See Personnel, Employee Benefits



Vocational Education. See Curriculum

Volunteer Programs

Volunteers. See Personnel


Wages. See Personnel

Waste Disposal

Water Supply

Work Permits. See Students

Worker's Compensation. See Personnel or Insurance