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A. Board and Governance
B. Planning
C. District Management
D. Site-Based Decision-Making

CURRENT SITUATION

Site-based decision-making (SBDM), a state and federal initiative in education management, focuses the full resources of a school district at the school level and encourages all decisions to be made as close to the people affected by them as possible. The major focus of SBDM is to empower students, teachers, parents, principals, and schools.

Districts must establish a districtwide SBDM committee as well as one for each campus. Section 11 of the Texas Education Code provides information on the composition of the committees as well as the roles and responsibilities of each one. The committees are to be comprised of elected professional staff of the district in a ratio of two-thirds classroom teachers and one-third other campus- and/or district-level professional staff. Parents, community members, and businesses are to be included on each committee "in a manner that provides for appropriate representation of the community's diversity."

In each district, an administrative procedure must be provided to clearly define the respective roles and responsibilities of the superintendent, central office staff, principals, teachers, district-level committee members, and campus-level committee members in six areas:

  • Planning
  • Budgeting
  • Curriculum
  • Staffing patterns
  • Staff development
  • School organization.

The district adopted a SBDM plan in 1994. This plan created eight SBDM committees: one at the district level and one at each of the seven campuses. This plan also documents the general scope of responsibility, committee composition, electoral processes for member selection, and approval processes. The committees meet at least once monthly to review issues and concerns. Matters that have been brought to the attention of the committee but do not pertain to site-based management are referred to the central administration.

FINDING

District SBDM participants suggested a wide disparity in the way each school uses the committees. At the elementary schools, the committees actively review information and provide input to the principals as decisions are made. Representatives said that SBDM committees and the teachers discussed all major issues and had input on all decisions in the same manner.

Representatives at the district level, the high school, and the junior high school said that input to decision-making is limited and the committees are used more as a forum to present information than to receive input. One representative said the committee merely approved the school calendar. Another said they had never seen the policy governing the role of the SBDM committee.

In a written survey of teachers and campus administrators, the review team asked both groups to respond to the following statement regarding the SBDM process: "Site-based decision-making is implemented effectively in MPISD." A majority of teachers, 53 percent, either agreed or strongly agreed while 41 percent of the campus administrators agreed or strongly agreed.

Intermediate, junior high, and high school teachers seemed most dissatisfied, with 58 percent, 45 percent, and 24 percent, respectively, of the teachers either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the statement.

The committee chairs, principals, and committee members also indicated that there is no clear definition of the authority levels of the committees. Where the elementary SBDM committees are an integral part of the budget process, the high school committee has had very little input or evaluation of options in the budget. The site-based plans provide general statements of responsibility, but according to the chairs, the role of the committee is left to the discretion of the principal at each school.

Representatives of SBDM committees said that until this school year, no training had been provided on the roles and responsibilities of SBDM committees. In fall 1998, RESC VIII provided training on the roles of the committees.

Some districts have addressed these types of circumstances by creating a model that assigns responsibility at each level for providing input, offering recommendations, making decisions, and giving approval. The model used by the Spring Branch ISD appears in Appendix F.

Recommendation 6:

Clearly define the levels of authority associated with each decision team in the SBDM process and communicate the new policy to MPISD staff.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE

1. The superintendent meets with the SBDM committee chairs, the deputy superintendents, and the principals to review current SBDM policies and procedures, identify inconsistencies in the application of the policies and procedures, and develop consistent use of the committees at all levels. March 1999
2. The superintendent develops a policy that reflects the discussions on how committees will function at each campus and at the district level, and outlines and presents this policy to the board for review and approval. April 1999
3. Upon board approval, the superintendent meets with the principals and SBDM committee chairs to review the policy and begin implementation. May 1999

FISCAL IMPACT

This recommendation can be implemented with existing resources.

FINDING

Representatives of the SBDM committees said there was little feedback to the committees about the status of recommendations brought to the superintendent or the board. There is no mechanism for regular periodic reports by the committees to the board, nor is there any regular meeting of the committee chairs with the superintendent. The superintendent also said the SBDM committees are not actively involved in the preparation of campus and district budgets.

Representatives of the committees and the committee chairs said the involvement sought in the development of the district and campus performance/improvement plans was left to each campus. At the elementary level, teachers and committee representatives were actively involved. At the other levels, according to representatives of the SBDM committees, the plans were usually prepared by the principal and several members of the campus leadership team, then presented to the committees for approval.

Members of the district SBDM committee indicated that the annual plan was prepared by district staff and presented to the committee for discussion and approval. Reporting during the year on the plan's status was viewed as minimal by committee members.

In the Accountability Resource Guide on Site-Based Decision Making and District and Campus Planning released by TEA in 1992, the steps of an effective site-based planning process were described (Exhibit 1-16). An updated version of the guide with the same process was released in 1995.

Exhibit 1-16
TEA Recommended Site-Based Planning Process

Step Description
1. Acquire governance support by ensuring that the local school board has approved policies outlining the district- and campus level planning and decision-making processes.
2. Ensure that board policy designates the procedures for election of both district- and campus-based professional staff members to the district- and campus-level planning and decision-making committees.
3. Follow local district policy and requirements of state statute to elect district and campus professionals for the district and campus committees.
4. Ensure that all appropriate specialists have an opportunity to provide input in the planning and decision-making process.
5. Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment beginning with an analysis of the most current student performance on the academic excellence indicators for all student populations tested.
6. Organize for planning. Provide background information and training, select plan formats, appoint skilled facilitators, provide for clerical support, and access needed materials, space, and equipment.
7. Conduct planning sessions. Collaboratively identify appropriate long-range goals and annual performance objectives.
8. Identify resources necessary to accomplish performance objectives.
9. Complete the planning documents.
10. Develop recommendations for a comprehensive budget aligned with strategies identified to accomplish stated performance objectives.
11. Ensure that a draft of the proposed plans has been made available for review to representatives of all stakeholder groups prior to final submission of the performance objectives to the board for approval.
12. Provide a review of the proposed district and campus performance objective for board approval.
13. After board approval, disseminate plans to all district and campus staff and make them available to parents, community members, and business representatives.
14. Allocate adequate resources to accomplish the strategies. Assign specific staff members to guide implementation of each strategy and activity within each plan.
15. Implement the plans.
16. Monitor the ongoing implementation of each plan according to identified incremental timelines and evaluative criteria and make adjustments as needed.
17. Evaluate the accomplishment of targeted performance objectives on an annual basis.

Source: Accountability Resource Guide on Site-Based Decision Making and District and Campus Planning, TEA.

Recommendation 7:

Adopt the site-based planning process recommended by the Texas Education Agency and involve members of the SBDM committees in the process.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE

1. The superintendent meets with SBDM committee chairs and principals to discuss the TEA site-based planning process. March 1999
2. The superintendent, committee chairs, and principals modify the process to accommodate MPISD and finalize the process for presentation to the board. April-June 1999
3. The board reviews and approves the process with any modifications. July 1999
4. The superintendent implements the process with the district SBDM committee, and the principals implement the process on each campus. Ongoing

FISCAL IMPACT

There is no fiscal impact associated with this recommendation.

FINDING

Interviews and focus group meetings with SBDM committee members, principals, and teachers revealed that different selection methods are used to pick committee members. At some campuses, teachers recommend teachers who are then asked if they want to participate; at other campuses there are elections; and at some campuses the principal picks who will participate.

Participation by parents and community members is minimal. No more than three members of any of the campus or district committees, according to lists provided to TSPR by the district at the beginning of the review, were parents or community members.

Interviews with SBDM committee representatives also indicated that few, if any, of the committee members are minorities. The high school committee has no African Americans and one Hispanic member; the junior high school has one African American and no Hispanic member; and Brice Elementary School has no minority members. Only at Fowler Elementary School, where two African Americans and one Hispanic are committee members, was there any minority community presence. According to the Texas Education Code, the composition of the SBDM committees are to be "in a manner that provides for appropriate representation of the community's diversity."

Members of the committees said repeated efforts had been made to recruit minority community members. Problems cited in securing participation by minorities included inconvenient meeting times, too many other commitments, and limited parental interest.

Some districts recruit participants through the business community, local minority organizations, and churches. One of the district's board members is a vice president with Pilgrim's Pride, which employs a large number of Hispanic workers, and the board member may be able to get recommendations through plant employees. The Child Development Center has a working group of parents that meets regularly that could be asked for recommendations on Hispanic participants.

Members of the review team met with an African American group called Rebound, comprised of teachers, professionals, substitute teachers, members of the clergy, and other interested citizens. Members of Rebound indicated an interest in providing names of potential participants and in encouraging greater minority participation on the committees.

Recommendation 8:

Institute districtwide guidelines on the election of MPISD teachers and professional staff to SBDM committees and increase efforts to attract minority representatives.

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE

1. The superintendent meets with SBDM committee chairs and develops a standard process for selecting committee members at each level and discusses ways to increase minority participation on the committees. March 1999
2. The superintendent and committee chairs present this proposed election and recruitment process to the board for review and approval. April 1999
3. The superintendent and SBDM committee chairs meet with representatives of the minority communities to discuss the importance of the role of the committees, emphasize the need to have the composition of the total school population represented on the committees, and solicit potential committee members. May 1999
4. Committee chairs maintain continuing contact with minority community representatives to generate a reserve of potential committee members. Ongoing

FISCAL IMPACT

There is no fiscal impact associated with this recommendation.