IFCA - School Improvement
Shared decision-making is one of many strategies to initiate and realize school improvement. It is a process, not an end in itself. Shared decision-making provides an opportunity for all members of a school community to collaborate, where appropriate, in solving problems, defining goals and shaping direction for an individual school. The overall purpose of shared decision-making is to enhance student achievement through both improvement of the instructional program and delivery of support services. It is intended that shared decision-making be seen as a strategy to enhance other efforts to improve schools. It is not intended to replace all other school improvement strategies.
District Strategic Plan
District goals, district strategic plan and Board policies shall continue to be established at the district level and approved by the Board. These establish the broad framework within which decisions can be made at the district level. Responsibility and accountability for decisions made at the district level will be shared by the central office administrative staff and Board. It is expected that school improvement teams use district goals and district strategic plan as the guiding framework for developing school improvement plans.
School Improvement Team
The Board directs the superintendent to encourage community involvement in shared decision-making and to foster the collaborative efforts of district personnel, students, parents and community members through the development of a school improvement team at each school site.
School Improvement Team Meetings
In order to facilitate appropriate communication between the 21st Century Schools Council and other school improvement committees, a meeting schedule will be established to bring the groups together as a school improvement team. During these meetings, the groups will operate as a committee of the whole to collaboratively address school goals and improvement plans. The primary focus of the school improvement team shall be to develop school improvement plans to improve student performance.
Guidelines and Parameters
In October of each year, the school improvement team of each school site shall submit their school improvement plan to the superintendent. Using the guidelines of Oregon Revised Statutes, the plan will be aligned with the goals of the district strategic plan. Assessment and other profiling information specific to each school site will be used in the preparation of the school improvement plan. This plan shall include:
- VISION - A description of how this plan will impact the operation of the school for the benefit of students, staff and community including clear and specific goals for school improvement with intended measurable student performance outcomes. The goals of this plan should be clearly connected to state school improvement goals, district goals and the district strategic plan;
- STRUCTURE - A description of the school improvement team membership, the process used to develop the goals and outcomes for the school improvement plan and the plan for implementation at the school;
- ACCOUNTABILITY - A description of the significant profile findings used to develop the school’s plan for improvement as well as the plan to evaluate progress toward the school improvement goals using baseline data and assessment tools;
- ADVOCACY - A description of how the school intends to share with the community and other sites and involve the community in processes and practices that are effective with a strong focus on student learning.
School Improvement Advisory Committee
In accordance with legislative and district intent to emphasize involvement of parents and the community in the total education of students, each school may establish a school improvement advisory committee comprised of at least six elected parents which can be duel members of the 21st Century Council. The responsibilities of this committee are to:
- Work with the 21st Century Schools Council to develop the school improvement plan;
- To provide input and assist the 21st Century Schools Council in making decisions impacting the site;
- To coordinate communications to other parents and the community;
- To serve in an advisory capacity to the principal in areas such as student attendance, district finance, district rules, discipline, transportation, safety, fees, extracurricular activities, fund raising, district facilities and district-community relations.
Election of School Improvement Advisory Committee
Parents will be elected through a nomination and election process made open to all parents of students attending the school. Appropriate bylaws will be developed and adopted by the school improvement team to govern this process. Employees of the district who are also parents of students are eligible to be elected to the school improvement advisory committee. If this advisory committee is considered part of the 21st Century Schools Council, they cannot be employees of the district. Appropriate notice must be given to ensure that all parents have the opportunity to participate in the nomination and election process.
School Improvement Advisory Committee - Operating Norms
School improvement advisory committees have the responsibility to determine and file in the office of the superintendent an annual statement describing the exact makeup of the committee. They shall also develop bylaws within the following parameters:
- The school improvement advisory committee will maintain appropriate lines of communication between the district level administrators and the Board through the use of meeting agendas and minutes;
- The committee will respond to problems and issues as a committee rather than as individuals;
- The committee shall not involve themselves in individual student problems;
- The committee shall be advisory in nature and work within the framework of the administrative structure of the district.
21st Century Schools Council
The district encourages the collaborative work of shared decision-making. Pursuant to the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st century and relevant Oregon Administrative Rules, a 21st Century Schools Council shall be established at each school site. Each school is encouraged to proceed in their development of such councils based on the perceived readiness of the staff and school community.
Each member of a 21st Century Schools Council has the responsibility to promote quality education and the needs of students and to represent the interest group from which he/she is elected or appointed.
Membership of a 21st Century Schools Council
A 21st Century Schools Council shall be structured as follows:
- A 21st Century Schools Council shall be comprised of teachers, classified district employees, building administrators and parents or guardians (not employed by the district) of students attending the school. Members will serve in a voluntary capacity;
- Teachers and classified district employees who voluntarily serve on a 21st Century Schools Council shall be selected by the direct election of peers in the school under the following conditions:
- Not more than fifty (50%) percent of the 21st Century Schools Council shall be active classroom teachers;
- The principal or the principal’s designee shall be a member of the 21st Century Schools Council.
- Parents shall not comprise more than fifty (50%) percent of the 21st Century Schools Council. Parent members of the 21st Century Schools Council shall be selected by parents or guardians of students attending the school (but not employed by the district) and may appoint representatives of the community at-large;
- If the Board determines that a school site is unable to fulfill the composition requirements for a 21st Century Schools Council or if the needs of a school site require a different composition, the Board shall establish the 21st Century Schools Council in a manner that best meets the educational needs of the district.
The focus of all actions of the 21st Century Schools Council shall be directed towards the improvement of student performance as measured by statewide assessment results and other appropriate profiling information.
As provided by state law, the duties of the 21st Century Schools Councils include the following activities:
- The development and implementation of a plan to improve the professional growth and career opportunities of a school’s staff;
- The improvement of the school’s instructional program; and
- The development and coordination of plans for the implementation of the school improvement plan.
In addition, 21st Century Schools Council may involve themselves in:
- Developing educational priorities for the school site, based on the district’s priorities but taking into account the special needs of students at individual schools;
- Developing new programs to meet the unique needs of a school’s student population;
- Assisting in the development of scheduling to meet instructional objectives;
- Advising in the allocation of a school site’s resources to best meet the needs of the students;
- Selecting supplemental instructional materials.
If the district applies for and becomes part of a state grant program, membership and duties of a 21st Century Schools Council shall be as described in the laws and regulations governing each grant program.
Limitation of Council Authority
No council shall have the authority to override an action of administrative rule/regulation, administrative decision or Board policy without the approval of the superintendent and the Board, respectively. Council decisions may not abrogate any provision of district labor agreements or law.
21st Century Schools Council - Operating Norms
The 21st Century Schools Council has the responsibility to determine and file in the office of the superintendent an annual statement describing the following:
- Size of the council;
- Exact makeup of the council;
- How members are to be chosen and elected;
- Terms of office on the council;
- Rotation of membership/staggered terms;
- Selection of chair;
- How decisions will be made;
- Maintenance of recorded agendas and meetings;
- Communication of school improvement activities with the school community and other district employees;
- School improvement team meeting schedule.
Public Meetings Law
The principal or designee has the responsibility to ensure that the 21st Century Schools Council and the school improvement team shall follow the notice, meeting and record keeping requirements of the public meetings law. Minutes shall be circulated to all central office administrators, Board members and other councils in the district.
It is expected that decisions and recommendations made by a 21st Century Schools Council and the school improvement team fall within the parameters of:
- Federal and state requirements;
- Board policy and administrative rules;
- Approved budgets;
- District goals;
- District strategic plan.
If, in order to proceed with the implementation of a decision, a waiver of the above is necessary, a 21st Century Schools Council will be expected to follow the procedures outlined and authorized in Oregon Revised Statutes.
If challenges are made regarding decisions of the 21st Century Schools Council, an appeal process may be initiated within these parameters:
- Appeal is first made to the office of the superintendent. The appeal shall be in writing and include a clear description of the decision made which is being appealed. Information regarding the way the decision was made and the purpose for the decision shall be included;
- The reason for the appeal shall be clearly stated including evidence for concern and alternative solutions;
- Opportunity will be made available to the 21st Century Schools Council to present their position on the issue;
- After hearing both sides, the superintendent will issue a ruling to the parties described in the appeal;
- If the results of the appeal process are unsatisfactory to any party involved, the decision may be appealed to the Board for a final decision.
Additional Roles and Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of the Board to develop the parameters within which school improvement teams and 21st Century Schools Councils make their decisions. Through the adoption of district goals and the district strategic plan, the Board communicates the mission, beliefs and goals of the district. As individual site goals and expected outcomes are established in response to both student performance and the strategic plan, the Board has the responsibility to review and hold school sites responsible to progress made towards the attainment of higher student learning and the achievement of the goals presented within the school improvement plan.
- Central Office
The role of the central office personnel is to communicate the strategic plan and goals of the district to the community and all facets of the district. They are responsible for developing and coordinating:
- District-wide priorities;
- Instructional program goals;
- Curriculum framework and standards for performance;
- The educational budget and a system of allocation of funds;
- A plan for capital expenditures;
- Technical and professional support to staff and schools;
- Coordination of school improvement plans.
In addition to the responsibility of the principal as the educational leader of the school site, under a shared decision-making model, the principal has the responsibility for ensuring that a school site develops an improvement plan which is responsible to district guidelines and student needs. The principal must facilitate the process of creating a vision for the school site and of creating a decision-making structure which can respond to that vision. The principal needs to be the communication link between the district staff and the external environment to ensure that decisions made consider all aspects of the school community.