Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Frenzy

It's that time of year when administrators are returning to their school buildings and staff members will soon begin "pre-service" training. Most school buildings have undergone a major cleaning to welcome back staff and begin the process of preparing for the first day of the new school year.

It's not too late for parents who want their child/ren to attend a charter school to contact the school to see if there are any openings. All the charter schools in Colorado are online here. Because charter schools use a variety of enrollment methods, it's best to contact the school directly.

There are several school supply drives at this time of year. Everyone who doesn't have to pay for their own child/ren's school supplies, should consider donating to one of these community drives. It's also a good time for caring adults to consider tutoring a child throughout the school year.

Personally, I like donating in a more personal way. Consider asking a school principal what he/she would really like to do for his/her students, but doesn't have the resources for. Or consider adopting a classroom of students by sponsoring their classroom parties, donating reading books or any number of other personalized ideas.

During the frenzy of back-to-school shopping and activities, remember the real reason to invest in our schools: the students! Get to know some of these students and it'll not only change your own life--it justmay change theirs, as well!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why a Job Description is Critical for a Charter School Administrator

Charter school leaders, rarely comfortable being put in a box, use a variety of titles for their number one administrator: Head of School, Principal, Executive Director, and Director are just a few. For this post, I'll use the term "Principal" to talk about the lead administrator.

Charter schools use a variety of structures to meet the school's administrative needs. Some charter school governing boards have one person report to the board (considered a best practice) and some have two or more. This means that unless there are clear job descriptions, it's difficult, and sometimes impossible, for administrators to know what is their responsibility.

This is also true when the charter school governing board has a very involved President. Having a board member do some of the functions commonly delegated to the Principal presents problems. Once the Principal's job description is established, and a Principal is hired, there shouldn't be any deviation from that outline of responsibilities. If a board member temporarily assists the Principal with a responsibility, it should be clear to all involved that the board member is doing it as a "volunteer" without board authority to lead or make decisions.

Many administrators are wary of charter school governing boards, especially when they don't have processes and policies established such as the job description, Principal evaluation form, and Principal evaluation policy. Not having these things appropriately documented shows potential Principal candidates that the board hasn't reached a level of capacity to successfully lead a charter school. Since it's hard to find a really good Principal, boards that fail to develop processes and policies are often left with less-than-ideal Principal candidates.

It's common for there to be confusion about what is the Principal's role versus the governing board's role. Here is a worksheet to discuss the various responsibilities and note who is responsible. Having roles clearly defined, and documented, is a way to mitigate potential conflicts or miscommunication.

Because charter schools are so unique and utilize a variety of organizational structures, school leaders need to take the precaution of documenting as much as possible before the first Principal is hired.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

HB 1412 Committee Wraps Up Its Work

The HB 1412 committee to recommend charter school and charter school authorizer standards wrapped up its work today by holding a public comment session and finalizing its draft report. Minor changes were made to the draft that had been widely circulated for public comment.

The final report now gets professionally formatted and then provided to the House and Senate Education committee members and the State Board of Education members by the August 1 deadline established in the legislation that created the committee.

The State Board is required to adopt rules for these charter school and charter school authorizer standards. For the authorizer standards, the committee adopted by reference the National Association of Charter School Authorizer (NACSA) standards. The committee recommended standards for charter schools in regard to executive compensation, nondiscrimination and conflicts of interest plus recognized processes already in place such as the Charter School Support Initiative process for school reform.