I caught the end of the Student Learning Committee this evening and heard a bit of the discussion on the Program Placement Policy that is in development.
The Policy may be teamed with a procedure, but it might not. The Board may simply leave the details to the Superintendent. The Policy will require that programs be equitably distributed across the district, the programs be placed close to the students' homes, that communities and stakeholders be engaged regarding program placements, that there be some analysis of impacts, and that the placement serve District-wide academic goals. Every program placement proposal - regardless of source - must meet the same criteria for acceptance.
The struggle here is between the need for central control to provide equitable access and the history of local control. For example, if the District decides that a school should have a Spectrum program is it okay for the principal at the school to reject it? On the other hand, if a school wants a Spectrum program but the new program would split a cohort into pieces too small to form viable programs, should the District allow it? There are a number of ALO programs north of downtown, but very few of them south of Downtown. Can the District compel a school to form one to provide equitable access to ALOs?
Beyond that, what if the programs are poorly administered or starved of resources? There is no program quality review, no real accountability there. What if the school or the District tries to launch a program, but it just doesn't take off?
Most program placement decisions are about special education and bilingual programs. How will the District prevent the concentration of these programs if the populations are concentrated?
Lots of questions. The staff has been given the goals of the Policy and will take the first swipe at writing it.