District Plan for Shared Decision Making; 2021
Table of Contents
- I. District Advisory Committee and Shared Decision Making Plan Writers
- II. Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Board of Education Goals
- III. Overview
- IV. Plan for Awareness
- V. Defining Issues Subject to Cooperative Planning and Shared Decision Making
- VI. The Manner and Extent of the Expected Involvement of All Parties
- VII. Means and Standards to Evaluate Student Achievement
- VIII. Accountability and Evaluation Page
- IX. Conflict Resolution Page
- X. Communication
A. Planning Guide for Committees
B. Mandatory Note Taking Template
C. Ground Rules
D. Training Materials
D.1.The Four Agreements
D.2.The Power of Collective Efficacy
District Advisory Committee and Shared Decision Making Plan Writers
- Frank Macri, Superintendent
- Rick Shea, VHS Principal
- Jennifer Drautz, VMS Principal
- Jeff Vivenzio, VES Principal
- Kelly Lendrum, VTA President
- Lynn Goyer, UEV Co-President
- Ann Marie Kurdziolek, UEV Co-President
- Andrew Sheehan, VHS Teacher
- Mary Ann Dunn, VHS Teacher
- Lynn Kelly, VHS Teacher
- Dan Chaize, VMS Teacher
- Courtney O’Connor, VES Teacher
- Kristin Huntsman, VES School Counselor
- John Bagyi, VCSD Parent
- Jessica Perry, VCSD Parent
- Carly F Burke, VCSD Student
- Isabella Gibeault, VCSD Student
- Gabby Vriniotis, VCSD Student
Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Board of Education Goals
The mission of the Voorheesville Central School District is to provide all students a strong foundation of knowledge and experiences in a safe and supportive environment to prepare them to be productive members of the global society and to value lifelong learning.
The Voorheesville Central School District is an engaging and supportive community of learning where everyone can participate and thrive at their highest potential.
Board of Education Goals
Student Achievement: The Voorheesville Central School District will provide enhanced opportunities to support the achievement of all students as they increase their capacity for learning and progress toward excellence.
Staffing: The Voorheesville Central School District will support the recruitment, training, and retention of a highly qualified and diverse staff.
Financial Responsibility: The Voorheesville Central School District will be a faithful steward of the community’s financial commitment to public education and will be responsible in managing all resources.
Communication: The Voorheesville Central School District will foster trust and engagement through open two-way communication, outreach, and responsiveness to all internal and external stakeholders.
Safe and Supportive Learning Environment: The Voorheesville Central School District will provide a safe and supportive learning environment and facilities that are inclusive, nurturing, and responsive to the social-emotional and mental health needs of all students and staff.
In the spring of 2021, representatives of the various stakeholder groups met virtually to elaborate, define, and formalize the shared decision making process throughout the district.
The VCSD is well known for its success in educating all of its students to their full potential and has a long history of engaging staff and community in planning to improve instruction and outcomes. The school district, and this team, are committed to the belief that decisions are in the best interest of the students when appropriately shared.
The District Advisory Council’s (DAC) overarching goal is the enhancement of student learning. It is expected that the DAC will be proactive as well as reactive – that they will review the ongoing programs and practices and address areas needing change. They are not expected to serve as ombuds-committees or to address specific, narrow complaints. They are not simply to improve what is, but to explore and implement what can be.
The success of this entire project assumes trust, assumes fair-minded persons who take their role on this team seriously and are willing to work collaboratively and cooperatively to improve student education at the building and district level. Rather than endeavoring to create a perfect document, the DAC chose to create a working document. It is clearly understood that the decision making process itself may need revisions. Feedback and possible improvements/ refinements in the plan are invited and expected. It is important to note that after using the shared decision making processes to gather the appropriate input, final authority rests with the Superintendent and Board of Education.
A board of education review will be conducted one year from the adoption of this plan and the plan will be subject to an annual review thereafter.
- Plan for Awareness
The Voorheesville Central School District is committed to the belief that decisions are in the best interest of students when appropriately shared. This committee further believes that maintaining a consistently high level of awareness, transparency, and commitment is necessary for the day to day success of cooperative planning and shared decision making.
- The district will make use of relevant technologies to make all constituent groups aware of issues that have been submitted for the District Advisory Councils consideration. The Voorheesville website, School Messenger notifications, and reports via email to parents/guardians and community members, who have registered to receive them via School Messenger are all appropriate venues for raising awareness of DAC issues and receiving input in a timely manner. PTA meetings, newsletters, and district bulletins are also good methods for sharing information on decisions that have been made and for seeking additional input where deadlines are less of an issue.
- Representatives serving on committees will communicate either electronically or in person, with their constituents during the work of the committee and when the representative has to present a point of view to the committee as they seek consensus.
- Whenever a committee begins its work, the co-chairs of the committee will be responsible for providing orientation to the Plan and processes for all new staff. See Appendices for all materials.
- Participation of parents/guardians and community members is a critical part of the Part 100.11 Shared Decision Making Regulations. The district will ensure that community members receive training similar to that received by the staff and Board of Education. Building principals will ensure that PTA leadership is trained in the fall of each school year. This will also include extending parents/guardians an invitation to be a part of committees at the building and district level. District should utilize all methods including website, School Messenger, parent/guardian emails lists to seek input and involvement in the process.
- All new employees and Board of Education members shall receive training on shared decision making processes to create awareness of their rights and responsibilities to participate in input and decision making that will affect them or their group. This training will be provided collaboratively by the Superintendent of Schools, or designees, the Administrative Association President, or designees, and the Teachers Association President, or designees, and the United Employees of Voorheesville President, or designees. This training will be conducted using training materials developed by the 2021 District Advisory Committee. See Appendices for all materials.
Defining Issues Subject to Cooperative Planning and Shared Decision Making
Committee co-chairs work together to set the agenda for the meetings of standing committees. The superintendent typically creates charges for ad hoc committees. In determining which topics or issues are appropriate for the decision making process, the following questions should be considered:
- Does the decision affect student development and/or educational performance in an entire building level and/or multiple buildings?
- Would the committee have the resources available to implement the decision? 3. Would any or all members of the committee have the authority to implement the decision?
- Will the decision impact one building, multiple buildings, or the entire district? 5. Is the topic or issue addressed governed by any of the negotiated contracts or Board of Education policy?
- Through consensus, would all members of the committee accept responsibility for the decision?
- Does this decision need multiple participants to assure effective and representative decision outcomes?
The Manner and Extent of the Expected Involvement of All Parties
- Types of Committees
- District Advisory Council
- Building Leadership Team
Note: As of January 2022, each BLT will absorb the Site Based Management Team. 3. Ad Hoc Committees
- Standing District Committees
- Determining the level at which topics/issues should be addressed
- Educational issues subject to cooperative planning and shared decision making 2. Program Development, Review, Revision.
- Program is defined as a total building program, curriculum, instruction, co curricular, and extracurricular activities; as well as articulation, coordination, staff development, assessment, and communication of the program.
- School Policy, Regulations, Rules
- School Climate
- A subject upon which a committee is necessary, the following will be considered:
Final Decision Level: Involves several stakeholders, stays within budget, is consistent with policy, existing regulation, laws and contracts, affects student achievement.
2. Advisory Level: Requires additional resources, involves changes in district policy, or is contrary to existing regulations or contracts.
Composition of Committees and Selection of Members
The composition of the committees will be based upon the type and function of the group. Wherever the composition of a committee is governed by collective bargaining agreements, the guidelines in those agreements will be followed. In all other cases, the district will seek to have as broad and representative a stakeholder group as possible. The following outlines the composition of specific committees.
The selection of staff and student members will be decided by the groups they represent (i.e., the Teachers Association will select the teachers; Administrative Association will select the administrators; United Employees of Voorheesville (UEV) will select the support staff representative, etc.); student government will select the student participants. While the process used to select parent/guardian representatives may vary from committee to committee, the process utilized will include solicitation of interest from parent and/or caregiver and/or community member across the district, identification of individuals with relevant/needed experience and/or expertise, and selection of representatives that can provide diverse perspectives, speak to building-specific concerns.
Members of any committee do not have to be part of their respective organization(s) (i.e. union).
District Advisory Council
The district advisory council will be formed as follows:
- VCSD Superintendent
- Two Board of Education Members
- One Administrator per building (3 total)
- Two Teachers per building (6 total)
- Two Support Staff per building (6 total)
- One Parent per building (3 total)
- Two VHS Students (2 total)
District Advisory positions will hold a minimum of a two year term.
Building Leadership Team
The building leadership team will be formed as follows, per building:
- One Administrator
- Staff Members (Teachers/ Support Staff): The number will range from five (minimum) to eleven (maximum).
The staff members will be mutually agreed upon by the Administrators and the VTA/ UEV.
- Parents: Three per building
■ Elementary: Two fifth grade students who serve on and are selected by Student Council
■ Middle School: Two students selected by Student Government
■ High School: Two students selected by Student Government
BLT positions will hold a minimum of a two year term.
Ad hoc committees will be created by the committee and include the necessary stakeholders. Ad hoc positions will be as needed for the length of time that the initiative is needed. On any and all of the above committees, having diverse voices from all levels of the district will ensure that all collective bargaining units are represented, a variety of voices are involved, and the end goal remains clear; to best support our students.
Roles and responsibilities
Committee chairs and co-chairs are expected to:
- Scheduling meeting carefully while communicating with all stakeholders 2. Solicit input from committee members for each meeting agenda.
- Develop a uniform format for agenda and minutes of their meetings. Agendas should clearly indicate the key issues to be dealt with at each meeting such that anyone reading the agenda would be capable of providing input to a committee representative on those issues.
- Publish an agenda such that it is available to staff and other committee members at least 24 hours before each meeting.
- Ensure comprehensive minutes are recorded. Allow all committee members to take part in creation, review, and approval of the minutes.
- Provide members with plans and mechanisms to work between meetings to accomplish committee goals.
- Make minutes of committee meetings available to all committee members and district employees
All committee members are expected to:
- Provide input to the co-chairs for meeting agendas
- Solicit input from constituents
- Prepare for, attend and participate in each meeting
- Communicate proposals of the committee to their constituency group in a timely manner 5. Actively participate in the work of the group
- Be on time for meetings and have good attendance
VII. Means and Standards to Evaluate Student Achievement
The goal is to improve learning.
- The District Advisory Council and Building Leadership Teams will facilitate the assessment of programs and student performance which focus on achieving the district’s mission and accomplish the district’s learner exit outcomes:
- Students will demonstrate knowledge and the application of skills in academic areas.
- Students will demonstrate the ability to access information and effectively communicate.
- Students will demonstrate esteem, confidence, discipline and respect for self and others.
- Students will demonstrate the ability to be critical, analytical and creative thinkers, able to solve problems individually and cooperatively.
- Students will demonstrate the skills and values to become productive citizens and active participants in democracy.
- Students will demonstrate an appreciation of the humanities, world cultures and the environment.
- Assessment of program achievement shall:
- Promote progress and ensure accountability
- Be useful to all interested parties
- Intrude as little as possible upon learning time
- Include assessment of progress toward proficiency and mastery of skills as well as minimum competency
To achieve this, the Building Leadership Teams will include an evaluation and assessment component for each recommended proposal. Each proposal should support the District’s goal statements; as written on page 3.
- student achievement
- financial responsibility
- safe and supportive learning environment
VIII. Accountability and Evaluation
Once every other year, the District Advisory Council must assess the success of their shared decision making and school based management processes to be used in required reporting to SED. This assessment must be based on following the decision making process, facilitating the implementation of the teams’ decisions, assessing the impact of the teams’ decisions, and continuously reviewing and evaluating programs resulting from the teams’ decisions.
- Committees will make recommendations to the Superintendent and Board of Education. Committee recommendations must be made within the constraints of Education Law, Board of Education policy and administrative regulations, union contracts, and budgetary limits established by the Board of Education.
- Within any committee, recommendations will be achieved by consensus.
Definition of consensus: general agreement resulting from a systematic group decision making process. Reaching consensus does not mean the vote is unanimous, the result is everyone’s first choice, or everyone agrees. Consensus lends to the development of the commitment and ownership necessary in collaborative decision making. The characteristics of consensus are:
- Require that participants know the process
- Is marked by group adherence to agreed rules for using the process
- Ensure equitable opportunity for participation in making decisions
- Represents the group’s solidarity of sentiment and belief
- Requires time, thoughtfulness, and responsiveness of participants.
- When consensus cannot be achieved the following voting process will be employed: 1. Each constituency group will have one vote.
- Team members of a constituency group will decide how to cast that vote. 3. A simple majority of votes will be required to approve any proposition.
- If a proposition does not receive a majority vote through this method, no recommendation will be made to the Superintendent and Board of Education.
- The manner in which all State and Federal requirements for the involvement of parents/guardians in planning and decision making will be coordinated with and met by the overall plan.
- Parents/guardians are active participants of the District Advisory Council, all Building Leadership Teams and may be invited to sit on other committees. Parents/guardians are encouraged to participate via District-recognized parent/guardian organizations, community announcements, school newsletters, public forums and personal invitations. The involvement of parents/guardians in school planning and decision-making does not conflict with any state and federal requirements addressing the same.
- District Advisory Council, Building Leadership Teams and all other committees adhere to the regulations for parent/guardian involvement in special education, academic intervention services and other programs. Any conflict in decision making by any committee and federal or state-mandated programs will be referred to the Superintendent or their designee who will decide on the appropriate resolution.
Appendix A: Planning Guide for Committees
Title of Committee:
Committee Charged By:
Type of Committee:
________District Advisory Council
________Building Leadership Team
________Ad Hoc Committees
________Standing District Committees
Mandatory Checklist for Shared Decision Making Committees
The training process must be conducted (1) for committee members at the start of each school year for existing committees and (2) at the first meeting for any ad hoc committees. Depending on the type of committee, the chair or the co-chairs will be responsible for the training.
The Training Process should be recorded in the minutes of the first meeting and include: 1. A discussion of the shared decision making culture in VCSD including the history of Shared Decision Making
- A discussion of the need for respect and equality among committee members 3. Review “Roles and Responsibilities” section of the plan, Page 9
- A discussion of the committee’s charge
- Creation of a constituent group list for each member
- Planning for how constituent representatives will communicate to their constituent groups 7. Creation of a preliminary Action Plan/Timeline
Appendix B: Mandatory Note Taking Template
Appendix C: Ground Rules
★ We will participate fully and share our experiences
★ We will listen with respect and with intent to understand
★ We will keep the best interests of students at the center of our work
★ We will discuss positions, not people
★ We will do our best to remove our biases
★ We will be open, honest, and respectful
★ We will focus on the work at hand and turn off our electronics
★ We will leave our ego at the door
★ We will celebrate the positive!
Appendix D.1 : Training Materials: The Four Agreements
The Four Agreements
Be impeccable with your words.
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
Don’t take anything personally.
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
Don’t make assumptions.
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.
Always do your best.
Your best is going to change from moment to moment. Under any circumstances, simply do your best.
Don Miguel Ruiz, 1997. The Four Agreements
Appendix D.2: Training Materials: The Power of Collective Efficacy
The Power of Collective Efficacy
Collective Efficacy… educators’ belief that in working together, they have the capability to improve significant challenges in schools – doesn’t just happen when systems or schools offer educators the opportunity to collaborate.
According to Michael Fullan, four conditions are essential to create collective efficacy…
- The team must commit to transparency in practice and results. There is nothing to hide; there is no shame in mistakes, we agree we are all here to get better.
- The team must create a climate of non-judgementalism. We listen to learn; we all commit to continuous improvement.
- The team must be specific in terms of the practices it will employ and actually employ them. Setting high expectations and measuring results will not lead to better outcomes. An effective theory of action requires careful selection of the practices that must change and even more careful attention to learning and implementing such practices with fidelity.
- The team must be clear on the specific evidence it will collect to know it is influencing growth – and it must collect it. Determining evidence of impact and the assessments that will be used to collect it must be identified at the very earliest stages of the improvement process. Otherwise learning and implementation will be unsuccessful because goals and measures are not aligned.
When teams or groups of educators operate under these conditions, they see meaningful results with students.
Michael Fulian affirms the power of collective efficacy. April 20,201
Appendix D.3: Training Materials:Simple Truths
#1 MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE WHEN THEY DO WHAT THEY DO.
#2 PEOPLE TAKE IT PERSONALLY WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THEIR PRACTICE.
#3 WHEN WE DO THE THINKING FOR OTHER PEOPLE, THEY RESIST.
#4 IF PEOPLE PERCEIVE US AS PUTTING OURSELVES “ONE UP,” THEY RESIST.
#5 UNLESS PEOPLE CARE ABOUT A GOAL, THEY AREN’T LIKELY TO ACHIEVE THE GOAL.
Appendix D.4: Training Materials: Personal Styles
Appendix D.4: Training Materials: Personal Styles, Continued