The new policy defines a program this way:
"This policy addresses the development of new programs or services, the replication of existing programs or services, as well as the closing and/or relocation of existing programs or services throughout the district, to the extent that those programs or services have an impact on budgets, hiring or placement of staff, or on space within a building."A program, according to this, must have an impact on budgets, staffing, or space. All of those alternative programs? Most of them aren't programs. Since most of the alternative schools are budgeted and staffed just like the traditional schools, they are not programs. What are they? They are schools with a specific curricular focus. See the School Board Action Report for the explanation:
"Generally the committee would focus on programs or services that would have a facility, fiscal or human resources impact, such as needing additional space, or needing to hire staff with specific credentials. The program placement committee did not address curricular focuses, such as a school that wanted an arts focus—that sort of change would be worked out with the school community, the principal, and the education director."So ORCA, with its arts focus? Not a program. Cleveland with its STEM focus? Not a program. Pathfinder, Thornton Creek, Pinehurst, Salmon Bay, Queen Anne, and Southshore? Not programs. Not even The Option Program at Seward (TOPS) is a program. It should more accurately be called The Option Curricular Focus at Seward (TOCFS).
But that's not all. Montessori programs don't impact budgets, or staffing, or space, so they aren't programs either; they, too, are a curricular focus. Language Immersion programs don't have an impact on budgets staffing or space, and the staffs for these programs do not have specific credentials. So they, too, are a curricular focus and not programs.
One more thing that people might assume was a program but is not - according to this definition: A.L.O.s. There is no budget, no staffing, no space, and no specific credentials needed to teach it. ALOs are not programs, they are not services, they are nothing. Which, as it turns out, is largely true. Same goes for Spectrum programs if they use the cluster model instead of the self-contained model.
Actually, the only things that you think are programs and services that actually meet the definition set by this policy are Special Education programs and services, APP, self-contained Spectrum, bilingual programs and services, and six non-traditional schools: The Center School, The NOVA Project, South Lake High School, Interagency, and the Homeschool Resource Center. Those schools meet the definition because they are not funded through the usual WSS.
So what? What difference does it make if they are programs or not? So this: if these schools and programs are not programs, then the Superintendent has no authority to open, close, or move them. This policy makes it clear that each of these - a school's curricular focus rather than a program - is a site-based decision. So if Sand Point - or any other school - wants to start a language immersion program, they are free to do so. If Roxhill - or any other school - wants to start a Montessori program, they are free to do so. McClure can choose to adopt experiential learning and they don't have to get the superintendent's permission to do it because, according to this policy, that is a site-based decision.
Again, from the School Board Action Report:
"Last, it is hoped that these amendments can help bring the focus back to the original meaning behind the policy, and that curricular focuses can remain community driven, rather than imposed by the district."It's clear that this policy means to make those types of decisions - curricular focus, defined as any change that does not impact budgets, staffing or space - site-based and outside the superintendent's authority. By policy, they will be community driven and not imposed by the District.
But there's more. There are things that we don't generally regard as programs or services that will, following the adoption of this policy, fall into the definition. Once that happens, schools will not be allowed to decide to replace self-contained Spectrum with a cluster model because it will impact the use of space in the school. That decision belongs to the superintendent alone. Also, once MTSS is implemented, any student who is in Tier 3 and is getting some sort of intervention that includes service from anyone other than the classroom teacher or using any materials that cost money, that will represent a change in service, it will require superintendent approval, and it will have to be included on the quarterly report to the Board. That's going to be a lot of reporting work for Wendy London and a lot of approvals for the superintendent.
This policy's meaning and impact hinges on the definition of "program" and "service" but the words aren't defined anywhere but in this policy. And the definition in this policy doesn't appear to draw the line where any reasonable person would want it drawn. Academic opportunities that we want outside the authority of this policy are left within it and some we want included are left out. Definitions are sorely needed. Regardless of the intent, the words of this policy refer only and strictly to the non-traditional schools, APP, self-contained Spectrum, bilingual programs and services, and programs and services for students with disabilities. Those are the only ones that "have an impact on budgets, hiring or placement of staff, or on space within a building." which is the stated limitations of the policy. It does not appear to govern anything else that we commonly believe to be a "program" or "service", such as language immersion, Montessori, STEM, ALO, non-self-contained Spectrum, or the alternative programs (other than the few not funded through WSS) because they do not have any impact on budgets, hiring, staff credentials, or class size. This policy, intentionally or otherwise, makes the creation or discontinuation of a curricular focus like these into site-based decisions outside the superintendent's authority. The Board really need to think about that before they move forward with it.