Fulton County GA Autonomy Framework
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Fulton County GA Autonomy Framework Fulton County GA Autonomy Framework Document Transcript

  • School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 FINAL VERSION September 2013
  • BOARD OF EDUCATION Linda Schultz, President Linda McCain, Vice President Julia C. Bernath • Linda P. Bryant • Gail Dean Catherine Maddox • Katie Reeves Robert M. Avossa, Ed.D., Superintendent September 2013 Dear Fulton Parents, Staff, and Community, As Georgia’s largest Charter System, Fulton County Schools is on an exciting journey to create learning environments where student achievement increases and innovation thrives. This is our opportunity to re-imagine education in new and forward-thinking ways. The path to developing truly innovative and effective schools relies on one thing – increasing local school autonomy. We fully believe in a system where schools take more ownership of decision-making and assume appropriate levels of accountability for results. School communities will play an instrumental role as we align our work with individual school needs. You have an incredible opportunity to become the architect of your school’s success. However, we first need to think differently about everything – how we operate, how we engage with our communities, and how we make decisions. The Charter System model is a new framework for school support. It’s one where local school leaders, School Governance Councils, and central office departments will work together to positively impact student achievement. It is a change from “business as usual.” That’s why it’s important to begin by clarifying expectations and establishing strong guidance with clear direction. This School Autonomy Guidebook is a tool we’ll use to meet the ambitious goals and commitments of the district’s Strategic Plan 2017: Building Our Future. The guidebook will be updated annually to provide clarity, reflect new ideas, and address continuing opportunities that arise throughout the Charter System’s evolving implementation. Thank you for joining us on this journey and for your continued support. Robert M. Avossa, Ed.D. Superintendent
  • Table of Contents Introduction – The Path to Innovative Schools ................................................. 4 1. Why Is Local School Autonomy Important? ................................................. 5 2. How Will the Parameters of Autonomy Be Determined? ............................ 6 Part I. Fulton Guiding Principles – Holding “Tight” ............................................... 7 Part II. Fulton Guiding Principles – Letting “Loose”.............................................. 8 Part III. Illustrative Examples of Guiding Principles in Practice........................... 9 3. How Will Schools Determine Which Flexibilities they Should Pursue?...... 17 Part I. School Strategic Plans (SSPs)..................................................................... 17 Part II. Earned Requests for Flexibility (RFFs) ....................................................... 18 Part III. Requests for Flexibility Timeline ................................................................ 18 Part IV. Initiating Change within the Charter System ....................................... 19 Conclusion ........................................................................................................ 20 School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 3 of 20
  • Introduction – The Path to Innovative Schools Fulton County Schools’ mission is to educate every student to be a responsible, productive citizen. As Georgia’s largest Charter System 1 the district now has an unprecedented level of freedom and flexibility to meet the diverse needs of students across the district, educate children to meet their full potential, and direct continued operational improvements and efficiency system-wide. This flexibility also includes a deliberate shift in the district’s approach to decision-making authority, encouraging more autonomy at the local school level where student needs are best met. Each of these elements, working in concert, will ensure every Fulton student graduates from high school on time and is supremely prepared for college and career. The aim of this document is to present a purposeful path to innovative schools across the district. We must think differently about how the district operates in order to achieve the bold vision outlined in Fulton’s Charter System contract and five-year Strategic Plan 2017: Building Our Future. In order to successfully achieve these goals, principals, School Governance Councils, district department leaders and staff require clear, specific guidance that: 1. Clarifies the parameters of local school autonomy for school principals and School Governance Councils, as well as central office departments and leaders that support schools; 2. Demonstrates how the district will be consistent in the treatment of new ideas and proposed innovations; and 3. Publicizes and standardizes currently available areas of flexibility. The following pages describe Fulton’s path to innovative schools in three steps as highlighted in Figure 1. Figure 1 – Path to Innovative Schools 1 As of August 12, 2013. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 4 of 20
  • 1. Why Is Local School Autonomy Important? The district’s five-year strategic plan prescribes a Fulton County Schools system that is more agile and responsive to the needs of each student and school. Significant challenges exist today that make the road to achieve this vision difficult, including:  The graduation rate across Fulton is too low;  Budget cuts have become the new normal; and  Our schools are being asked to do more (Common Core/Georgia Performance Standards) with limited budgets. We believe that increased local school decision-making promotes and supports the creation of new ideas and energies that can offset these challenges. There is untapped innovation and excellence in our schools and communities that can be released with shared governance and flexible systems. Increasing the level of autonomy at the local school level is important for three specific reasons. REASON #1: Recognizes Fulton’s Diversity. Increasing local school decision-making autonomy is a key lever in district reforms to improve student achievement because it:  Recognizes Fulton’s Diversity: The district is made up of 95,000 students and 100 schools with vast socioeconomic, preparation, language, and interest diversity;  Shifts Decisions Closer to Kids: Decentralizing authority empowers community engagement; and  Supports the FCS Learning Community Model: School communities are best positioned to develop unique solutions for their students. REASON #2: Integral to our Charter System Contract. Fulton County Schools’ five-year Charter System contract with the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) reflects the expressed desires of our community to strengthen local community involvement and encourage more local decision-making. REASON #3: Provides Increased Flexibility for Principals. Shifting the locus of decision-making greatly empowers district principals and School Governance Councils to make decisions that align with their level of responsibility and accountability for meeting the diverse needs of all of their students. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 5 of 20
  • 2. How Will the Parameters of Autonomy Be Determined? While many decisions are best made at the local level, there are other decisions that best remain with the Board of Education and Superintendent as foundations of the district’s governance and management structure. This belief is consistent with the idea that, as a Charter System, Fulton is not a collection of individual charter schools but a system of schools working together, where the Board of Education and Superintendent have ultimate accountability and responsibility for student achievement outcomes. Fulton County Schools’ local school autonomy philosophy is grounded by seven guiding principles that reflect the district’s Charter System governance framework. The district has developed these guiding principles to address ideas and proposed innovations by local schools and central office departments through a consistent lens as they are generated. There are already numerous areas in which schools enjoy the autonomy and flexibility to make local decisions, including determining local staffing; using dedicated funds to staff additional positions, equipment, or resources; the inclusion of more discretionary allocated funds as a percentage of the overall school budget; flexibility in how to manage custodial services; and others. This framework also seeks to highlight these areas so they are consistently applied across all district schools. Before we discuss the guiding principles in more detail, let’s consider some basic definitions. Holding a service “tight” means that the district would determine how a service is provided and the intention is for it to be provided in the same way across schools. Letting something “loose“ means that the school can determine how a service is provided and hence substantial variation is expected across Fulton County Schools. It is the guiding principles that will determine the appropriate place and level for decisions. We have used the following theoretical examples to help illustrate how these guiding principles will be applied. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 6 of 20
  • Part I. Fulton Guiding Principles – Holding “Tight” Table 1 explains four (4) guiding principles for the relatively few areas where the district has determined decisions would be best made at the central office or system level. Table 1 – “Tight” Guiding Principles It is important that some aspects of district operations be as consistent as possible for some key reasons, including: 1. Minimizing district and personal legal and financial risk, 2. Protecting student safety, 3. Preserving equity and federal compliance standards. Additionally, maintaining tighter oversight of the specific areas listed in Table 1 at the district level should minimize non-value add work and additional management responsibilities for principals and reduce potential distractions. Central office departments and staff are committed to continuously improving district processes to ensure system-wide supports meet and exceed local school needs. This should School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 7 of 20
  • free up our principals and School Governance Councils to consider a spectrum of ideas that can lead to sustained improvements within their school classrooms and communities. Part II. Fulton Guiding Principles – Letting “Loose” Table 2 presents three (3) guiding principles the district will use to determine whether proposed ideas and innovations in these areas would be open to consideration for local schools to pursue. Ideas would then be judged by their merit and cohesiveness of the approach to solving a particular opportunity area for improvement within the school. Table 2 – “Loose” Guiding Principles Shifting many aspects of decision-making authority away from central management to local schools represents a dramatic change in philosophy as Fulton County Schools embarks upon a fundamentally new framework of school support. The district envisions that, over time, boundless opportunities for innovations will organically develop through the increased community engagement that School Governance Councils will generate. Evaluating these ideas through these seven (7) guiding principles in Table 1 and Table 2 will ensure a consistent approach and drive increased flexibility and creativity from local schools and their supporting central office departments. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 8 of 20
  • Part III. Illustrative Examples of Guiding Principles in Practice District staff has spent considerable time this year with principals and system leaders to gauge specific ideas for thinking differently about how Fulton County Schools operates. The following should not be considered an exhaustive list of what is possible through increased local school autonomy and the potential of the district’s Charter System designation. These real concepts, arranged by strategic plan focus areas, were selected to illustrate and clarify how the district will approach similar ideas as we advance local school autonomy across the district. In some cases, a ‘tight’ example was included to underscore the difference between what we describe as ‘tight’ or ‘loose.’ It may be noteworthy to consider the level of flexibility already currently available to local schools. Proposals beyond areas of existing flexibilities may require a specific Request for Flexibility (RFF), which is defined in more detail in Section 3 of this document beginning on page 17. Each fall, the district plans to release additional guidance to clarify questions and issues that surfaced throughout the prior school year, so the outcomes and approach are standardized and transparent. Instruction Seat time and Class size Developing New Courses Selecting Instructional Resources Adjustments to School Day, Times, or Schedules Additional Graduation Requirements People Technology Selecting Technology Tools to Aid Instruction Effective Schools Transportation Scheduling and Supplemental Services Selection of Custodial and other Support Services Developing Staffing and Hiring Priorities Resources Setting Budget Priorities School-Based Fundraising and Use of Funds School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 9 of 20
  • Focus Area: Instruction General Idea Seat Time/Class Size Desired Flexibilities or Innovations Creating ‘seminar-style’ courses at HS level Tight or Loose Loose Currently Available or Requires RFF Requires an RFF Guiding Principle Key Innovation Increasing PE class size Description Schools could consider quarter-long or other varying length courses, especially for electives. To prepare students for college rigor, courses could be designed as seminar courses and add additional flexibility to school master schedules. Potential Implications What affect would additional courses have on the school’s master schedule? Schools would need to work with Learning & Teaching to ensure that new courses are aligned to existing FCS standards, and partner with Assessment & Evaluation to develop student learning objectives (SLO’s) for the course. There may also be staffing considerations for PE that need to be addressed with Talent. Developing New Courses Creating additional electives or variations to core subjects Loose Currently Available Central to School Strategy Key Innovation Description Schools could propose additions to their local school catalog of courses based on student demand. Potential Implications Schools would need to work with Learning & Teaching and Assessment & Evaluation to develop SLO’s for any new courses. Professional Learning & Development would need a strong preparation program in place for non-traditional teachers and an ability to plan ahead with Talent to source talent with subject matter content mastery. Selecting Instructional Resources Deciding what resources to use for subjects without textbooks Loose Currently Available Key Innovation Selecting adopted textbooks Determining use of traditional or digital resources Description Schools may consider the most effective instructional resources for particular courses, select from an approved list of adopted textbooks, or determine whether digital media or traditional textbooks best present instructional material for students. Potential Implications Schools would have to work with Learning & Teaching to ensure chosen resources support Board-approved curriculum and meet applicable standards. The type of resource selected could affect the local school’s ability to take advantage of other district-wide initiatives, given the system’s established strategic direction toward digital tools and resources. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 10 of 20
  • Focus Area: Instruction (continued) General Idea Adjustments to School Day, Times, or Schedules Desired Flexibilities or Innovations Extended school day for specific, targeted programs or students Tight or Loose Loose Currently Available or Requires RFF Currently Available Guiding Principle Central to School Strategy Key Innovation Extended school year Saturday school Description Schools could choose to extend their school day to provide targeted programs for students, hold Saturday classes to increase instructional time, or develop master schedule variations to create more time for supplemental student supports or counseling services. Potential Implications Transportation Services operates a multi-tier system to ensure efficiency in base morning and afternoon services. Schools may consider repurposing existing extended day services. Schools will need to consider costs associated with expanding the base transportation system as well as how the school would deliver all other building support services necessary to operate the building. District Transportation and Facilities Services teams would provide cost estimates for requested services to schools to support well-informed budgeting decisions that balance operational feasibility and costs and instructional outcomes. Additional Graduation Requirements Students better prepared for college, career, and to be world citizens through additional required experiences in high school Description Based on community and student demand, schools could set additional graduation requirements beyond current requirements. This could include community service requirements, a prescribed number of completed online courses, or other potential academic or enrichment-type activities for students. Potential Implications Schools would have to consider and mitigate impacts to higher mobility students and how the additional requirements could affect these students. How would the school provide equitable access for all students to meet these requirements? Loose Currently Available Central to School Strategy School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 11 of 20
  • Focus Area: Instruction (continued) Tight or Loose Currently Available or Requires RFF General Idea Desired Flexibilities or Innovations Description Continuous Achievement is the district’s instructional philosophy to ensure students are challenged according to their ability and learning level. Individual schools cannot deviate substantially from this key district strategy. Potential Implications Implementing additional programs (e.g. International Baccalaureate, Cambridge, College Board) would require a thorough review by the Board of Education and Superintendent to ensure aspects of the program do not fall outside the district’s broad Continuous Achievement philosophy. Individual School Balanced Assessments Determine own standards for student mastery Description While schools may want to develop their own assessments or determine how students can demonstrate standards mastery, this would lead to significant inconsistencies across the district. Potential Implications The district’s balanced assessment program must be followed so a consistent measure of student performance is possible. Local school staff may not have expertise in writing or evaluating assessments for their effectiveness. Continuous Achievement “Opt-out” of continuous achievement philosophy Tight Tight N/A N/A Guiding Principle Key District Strategy Expertise Examples for illustration purposes only School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 12 of 20
  • Focus Area: People Tight or Loose Currently Available or Requires RFF General Idea Desired Flexibilities or Innovations Description Schools may prioritize specific experiences, credentials, or certifications in the hiring of staff in accordance with consistent district policies. For example, a school may consider Talented and Gifted (TAG) credentials as a key criterion during teacher and staff interviews, with the goal of increasing the overall level of instruction in all classrooms, to meet an identified local school need. Potential Implications Schools would have to consider with Talent the impact of such preferences on existing employees. How would local school funds be determined and directed to train staff currently without the prioritized ‘credential’? Is Academics in agreement with the local school that the preference is likely to improve student achievement? Compensation Reforms Schools use new budget flexibilities to build differentiated compensation plans for teachers or staff Description Inconsistent compensation levels at the local school level destabilize the district’s management of its talent and human capital. The district’s compensation reform initiative will design new structures that effectively compensate employees fairly and incent high performance across all districts. Potential Implications Bidding for talent between schools can create significant legal risk for the district, has severe implications for employee morale, and impacts the sustainability of the local school staffing budget. Developing Staffing and Hiring Priorities Staff positions are utilized to meet local school and student needs Loose Tight Currently Available N/A Guiding Principle Central to School Strategy Key District Strategy Examples for illustration purposes only School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 13 of 20
  • Focus Area: Technology General Idea Selecting Technology Tools to Aid Instruction Desired Flexibilities or Innovations Variations of BYOD programs or Student Tablets Tight or Loose Loose Currently Available or Requires RFF Currently Available Guiding Principle Central to School Strategy Key Innovation Description Effective use of technology tools can aid schools in personalizing their instructional programs to meet individual student needs. This is a key district strategy, however, flexibility parameters or approved device lists may be developed that support sound district technology infrastructure management and drive cost efficiencies. Potential Implications Schools would need to consider the funding sustainability of the selected tools with Finance & Budget, gain agreement with Learning & Teaching and Instructional Technology that the tool supports the district’s instructional philosophy, and partner with Information Technology to work through network capacity and maintenance requirements. Examples for illustration purposes only School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 14 of 20
  • Focus Area: Effective Schools Tight or Loose Currently Available or Requires RFF General Idea Desired Flexibilities or Innovations Description Schools could determine levels of spending and approaches to custodial services, school resource deployments, and other building-specific services as these items are local options. The district would provide guidance and processes to limit management time for instructional leaders where appropriate. Potential Implications Legal issues would be mitigated through a close relationship with Contracting. A consistent quality of service is more likely by closely following guidance from Facilities Services. Transportation Scheduling and Selection of Supplemental Services Varying school start or end bell schedules or extended hours for the entire school Description A multi-tier transportation system maximizes district-wide efficiency and ensures school resources remain in the classroom. Per current Board policy bell time is determined by Transportation Services as school start and end times are critical variables to ensuring the efficient use of a multi-tier system. Bell times can be a key lever to increase instructional time or extracurricular learning opportunities for students. At this time, changing bell times is not possible without additional cost implications. If schools wish to consider changes to the base morning and afternoon service, critical trade-offs in local school budget decisions would be necessary to fund the additional service levels. Cost estimates and operational implications would be evaluated by Transportation Services. Once complete clusters, feeder patterns, and Learning Communities are transitioned into the Charter System framework, schools may potentially be able to work collectively to add time to the day among all schools within their transportation system with less impact to overall school system budgets. Additional services such as extended days or Saturday school for targeted students remain currently available. Schools may use existing transportation services for extended day or may reallocate the funding for these services as noted in an earlier example in this document. Potential Implications Poorly aligned transportation services would likely impact state funding formulas significantly as well as the services provided to partner feeder schools within each Learning Community. Schools would need to work closely with Finance & Budget and Transportation Services to determine available local school funds, understand the additional costs of selected supplemental transportation services, and the district’s capability to provide the service. Selection of Custodial and other Building Support Services An array of options to meet custodial and other building services needs Loose Tight Currently Available N/A Guiding Principle Close to Students Economies of Scale Examples for illustration purposes only School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 15 of 20
  • Focus Area: Resources Tight or Loose General Idea Desired Flexibilities or Innovations Description Schools are receiving more of their budgets in real dollars, which increases the discretion schools have in determining how to spend their funds. Funds related to positions or programs that may not be central to the school’s mission or strategy could potentially be better utilized in other areas. Potential Implications Alignment with Finance & Budget keeps an appropriate level of focus on sustainability and more obscure compliance issues that the district manages centrally. School-Based Fundraising and Use of Funds Fund new or incremental staff positions, programs, or activities Setting School Budget Priorities Allocating school budget funds to priority areas Loose Loose Currently Available or Requires RFF Currently Available Currently Available Guiding Principle Central to School Strategy Central to School Strategy Key Innovation Description Many schools have robust fundraising operations to support school activities. There are broad implications for how these funds are used and how these decisions impact related district operations. This is more of a policy and procedure concern than a true innovation. Schools cannot use funds derived from fundraising sources to purchase positions (i.e., people); these funds may only be allocated for resources (i.e., things). Potential Implications A school would need to work closely with Finance & Budget to structure such positions or programs on a consistent expectation of funding, likely develop a longerrange model for the position with Talent to ensure consistency, or “end-date” the position or resource during each annual budget cycle. Use of Federal and Grant Program Funds Designating more of school budget funds to specific initiatives or priorities Description and Potential Implications Material variances in the use of Federal and Grant funds (e.g. Title I, Special Education) could put other district funding sources at risk, as well as increase the district’s legal exposure. Any decisions regarding these areas must be made at the district level. Contracting and Records Management Flexibility Schools enter into their own agreements outside of district guidance and processes Description and Potential Implications Variability in how local schools enter into contractual arrangements could create significant legal liability risk for the district and the local school. Central office staff have key expertise in this area that principals and school staff may not. Tight N/A Compliance Expertise Tight N/A Compliance Expertise Examples for illustration purposes only School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 16 of 20
  • 3. How Will Schools Determine Which Flexibilities they Should Pursue? Now that we have established the district’s guiding principles that frame what schools can and cannot do in this environment with greater local school autonomy, it is important to recall the primary rationale for pursuing Charter System status was to dramatically improve student performance through greater freedoms and flexibility with accountability. Just because a school can pursue an idea or innovation, there is a necessary next step to determine whether it is an appropriate strategy for a particular school. Principals and School Governance Councils would still need to build a solid case for how a particular proposal would meet their school’s identified need, and, more importantly, how the idea or concept would drive sustainable improvements in student achievement. This determination will be achieved through developing strong School Strategic Plans (SSPs) and a consistent Request for Flexibility (RFF) evaluation process. KEY POINT: There is a difference between wishing to change a specific district policy or process, and developing new, research-based ideas to address student or staff opportunity areas within a school and community. Part I. School Strategic Plans (SSPs) The School Strategic Plan (SSP) process provides a logical course for Principals, School Leadership Teams and School Governance Councils to determine school needs and corresponding long-term outcomes. Through the strategic planning process, schools will likely develop creative approaches to help them realize their goals. Some of these innovations and ideas will fall within the school’s existing scope of authority, while others may require waivers from district or state policy or law. To request a waiver from a state or district law or policy, a school must submit an Earned Request for Flexibility (RFF) proposal to the district. 2 2 Note the distinction between Earned Requests for Flexibility and Universal Requests for Flexibility (which do not require waiving of a law or policy nor district review). Universal Requests for Flexibility are currently limited to initiatives such as student uniforms and parent involvement requirements. For more information on Universal Requests for Flexibility, see http://portal.fultonschools.org/CharterSystem/Documents/SGC%20Guidance%20Documents.pdf. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 17 of 20
  • Part II. Earned Requests for Flexibility (RFFs) Requests for Flexibility (RFFs) give schools, their stakeholders, and, where applicable, district administrators the opportunity to assess the feasibility and merit of proposed ideas or innovations. The Earned RFF proposal builds off the school’s strategic plan and addresses critical factors including, but not limited to:  A well thought-out action plan;  Evidence of sufficient research or an indication of the likelihood of success;  A discussion of the potential implications for personnel, operations, schedule, etc.; and  Budget implications and forecasted resource needs. The Earned RFF proposal process includes a 30-day public comment period, a School Governance Council vote, and a district review and approval phase. All Earned RFFs must be approved by a 2/3 majority vote of the School Governance Council and the Superintendent in order to be implemented. Part III. Requests for Flexibility Timeline Figure 2 presents an overview of the Earned RFF proposal process and timeline for submissions that Cohort 1 schools will follow during the 2013-2014 school year. 3 A detailed Earned RFF template, instructions and due dates will be available on the Charter System website (www.fultonschools.org/CharterSystem) in September 2013. 3 The milestones and deliverables shown on the timeline in this document will also apply to upcoming Cohort 2 and 3 schools and School Governance Councils as they join the Charter System in future years. Note that this timeline may be revised in the future. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 18 of 20
  • Figure 2 – “Earned” Request for Flexibility (RFF) Timeline [2013-2014 School Year] Part IV. Initiating Change within the Charter System While school leaders are empowered to implement many changes at their schools without undergoing the processes described in this section, the system strongly encourages school leaders to solicit feedback early and often from members of the school community before implementing significant changes in school policy or practice. Fulton’s new shared governance structure provides a unique opportunity for school leaders to get valuable feedback from representative voices within their school communities, gauge support for proposed ideas or innovations, and quell possible areas of concern before enacting major changes. School leaders are expected to work closely with their School Governance Councils and Governance and Flexibility Facilitators when deciding whether and how to implement new strategic efforts within their schools. School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 19 of 20
  • Conclusion The Fulton County Schools Board of Education fully believes that unleashing the innovative energies of local school leaders and communities, through the increased ownership in decision-making that our Charter System status provides, will drive tremendous gains in student achievement and be a model for reform across the nation. This document is just one example of the support and guidance the district will continue to provide to encourage thinking differently about how we operate, and prioritize actions that improve student outcomes system-wide. Additional resources and information will be frequently updated at the following websites. Charter System Website www.fultonschools.org/CharterSystem Strategic Plan 2017: Building Our Future Website www.fultonschools.org/StrategicPlan2017 BOARD OF EDUCATION Linda Schultz, President Linda McCain, Vice President Julia C. Bernath • Linda P. Bryant • Gail Dean Catherine Maddox • Katie Reeves Robert M. Avossa, Ed.D., Superintendent School Autonomy Guidebook 2013-2014 |Page 20 of 20
  • Overview of  Fulton County’s Charter System Fulton County Schools September, 2013 1
  • District profile • Physically bisected by Atlanta Public Schools – More than 70 miles between northern and southern  most points – Comprised of 13 cities • Fourth largest school district in GA – Over 95,000 students  – 100 schools • 6,800 certified teachers • Diverse student population – – – – DRAFT A majority minority District 45% free and reduced lunch 6% English language learners 10% special ed./needs  2
  • Building our Future 2017 Fulton County Schools envisions a system  that is agile and responsive to the needs of  each student… BUT: • The graduation rate across Fulton is too low • Budget cuts have become the new normal  • Our schools need to learn to do more  (Common Core/Georgia Performance  Standards/PARCC) with no additional funds 3
  • Our Theory of Action: Local Decision Making  Promotes Innovation There is untapped innovation and excellence in our schools  and communities that can be released with shared  governance and flexible systems. Local School Decision Making Autonomy is Key • Recognize Diversity: 95,000 unique kids – Vast diversity in  socioeconomic, preparation, languages, interests, etc. • Decision Closer to Kids: Decentralizing authority empowers  community engagement • Supports Learning Community Model: Schools communities are  best positioned to develop unique solutions for their students 4
  • Fulton Charter System Basics What it IS… What it IS NOT… • One unified system where Superintendent  is accountable for student achievement • A collection of individual charter schools  with dissimilar accountabilities • Existing attendance boundaries policy • New attendance lotteries or special  enrollment requirements • A systemwide, consistent curriculum with  potential flexibility based on community  interest • A set of “theme” oriented schools with  very different standards • Existing funding formula per school with  potential flexibilities within each school • Different funding allocations for individual  schools • All employees hired and managed by the  system with a system salary schedule. • Employees hired by the charter school  with salaries set by the school. 5
  • Cohort 1 Schools: 20 Early Adopters • Non‐startup charter schools will  transition to the School  Governance Council model over  the next three years  • In Spring 2012, we asked principals  to determine which cohort (1,2 or  3) to join – Intentionally made this a  self‐ selecting process – End result: 20 schools with strong  representation of all school levels  (ES, MS, and HS), Learning  Communities and Title I schools in  Cohort 1 Profile of Cohort One Schools  Level Learning Community High ‐ 5 Northeast ‐ 4 Middle ‐ 4 Northwest ‐ 5 Elementary ‐ 11 Central ‐ 5 South ‐ 6 6
  • School Governance Councils responsible  for strategic direction of school • Approve the school strategic plan • Approve the annual budget recommendations • Request flexibility from the District for innovation • Participate in hiring of the Principal, when vacant • Provide annual feedback on Principal  performance 7
  • School Governance Councils have school  and community representation • 3 parents/guardians elected by parents/guardians  with children enrolled at the school  • 2 teachers elected by the school employees • 2 school‐based employees appointed by the Principal • 2 community members nominated by the Principal &  approved by the SGC members • Principal (non‐voting) • For high schools: 2 students (non‐voting) 8
  • Cohort 1 elections administered centrally Metrics of  Success Candidate  Guide Online  elections  tool Candidate  posters  displayed  in school Advertisement  for Candidate  “Meet and  Greet” • No “empty”  seats • 220 candidates  for 95 slots • 3,015 total  voters • 60% employee  turnout GOTV  stickers 9
  • Training is Essential to the Transition Fulton Leadership and  Innovation Academy Training Modules 1. Strategic School Design 2. Decision Analysis • Ensure good governance • Establish common understanding  of data and school finance 4. Strategic planning Processes Provide problem‐solving and  decision analysis tools 6. Executive Leadership Skills Ensure principal has sufficient  support 8. School Finance • • 3. Governance Overview 5. Problem Analysis  7. Executive Coaching 9. Requests for Flexibility  10
  • PHASE 1 Step 1 Step 2 PHASE 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 PHASE 3 Action Plan &  Monitoring Outcomes & Theory of Change Information &  Needs Analysis Strategic Planning Model Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 • Environmental Scan • Organizational Assessment April to July • Analyze Implications July • Define Long‐term Outcomes July • Develop Theory of Change: Focus Areas and  Objectives August • Define Measures and Targets September • Develop Strategic Initiatives September • Create Action Plans October/November • Assess Ongoing Work October/November • Develop Monitoring Plan November/December 11
  • The district has defined two types of  School Flexibility Options Earned  Flexibility Establish parent involvement requirements • Implement dress codes for students • Create Professional development  focus aligned with  school strategic plan. • Universal  Flexibility • Create credit‐bearing internships, apprenticeships  and other real‐world experiences aligned with  students’ career and academic interests. • Develop additional courses or partner with  universities to allow students to excel beyond a  traditional high school curriculum by relaxing seat  time requirements • Use qualified professionals, in addition to certified  teachers, to teach applications of science and math 12
  • The Seed Fund Supports Innovation In Spring 2013, the legislature appropriated $7.8M to  Fulton County to support the Charter System, with an  expectation of a $4m annual allocation “Funds appropriated pursuant to  this Code section shall be used…to  advance student achievement  goals and school level governance  training objectives pursuant to  the charter.“ Title 20  ‐ §20‐2‐165.1 Fulton County Approach • • • Hold separate from general  fund Inspire creative thinking  from School Governance  Councils  Demonstrate to the State  that these funds are invested  responsibly 13
  • Tools will build idea‐generating capacity Knowledge  Management  System • Share best  practices • Document local  innovations • Catalogue use and  outcomes of new  ideas nationwide 14
  • What We’ve Learned • Inclusiveness is difficult but necessary • Clearly defining roles, rationale, and specific  outcomes is critical – Sweat the small stuff • Work with early adopters first who are best suited to  accommodate the uncertainty • Board support is absolutely essential 15
  • The Fulton Charter System Website has been a  valuable resource for our community • Cohort 1 Implementation  materials, tools, and guidance • Responses to Commonly Asked  Charter System Questions • All Presentations and related  documents 2012 GSPRA “Gold Award” Winner • Charter System Application www.fultonschools.org/CharterSystem 16