The following is the text of the Lansing School District's (LSD) Schools of Choice Planning Committee's recommended time line. It begins on page 28 of the committee's report. The abbreviation LSACC stands for the Planning Committee's official moniker, "Lansing Schools: A Capital Choice."
IMPLEMENTING THE SCHOOL CHOICE PLAN: A TIMELINE
Clearly, the many recommendations made by the LSACC committee cannot be implemented overnight. School choice is a complicated issue to understand and even more difficult to implement. The committee urges the Board and district staff to proceed slowly and take great caution during the implementation phase.
After reviewing the considerable tasks at hand, the committee recommends that the plan be put in place gradually over a six-year period; oversight of the process should be the responsibility of a committee comprised of parents, building staff, and central administrators. It is recommended that the implementation steps listed below be completed within the suggested time frame.
STEP ONE: The LSD should develop a detailed six-year plan to implement choice and a variety of program options in elementary schools. This plan should include a strategy for communicating regularly with and involving parents, students, teachers, administrators, and the general public.
STEP TWO: The entire 1992-93 school year should be used for planning and fine-tuning the program options plan, the enrollment guidelines, and all other elements of the LSACC's proposed elementary school choice plan.
STEP THREE: In fall and winter of 1992 an aggressive information/outreach effort must occur so that parents know that school choice will be implemented for elementary students in 1993-94.
STEP FOUR: All parents of elementary children should be offered choice for the 1993-94 school year, enrollment should be conducted spring 1993 to determine building enrollments for the following fall (1993). At this point, program diversity will not be an issue; choice will be offered among elementary schools as they currently exist.
STEP FIVE: During the 1992-93 school year, all schools should use their school improvement teams to develop a building plan that includes the comprehensive core curriculum and diverse program options. Current building staff should use their expertise to formulate unique plans for their own buildings based on the needs of students and the characteristics of staff, facilities, and location; parents must be active participants in the process. The process of program development also should include visits to districts and/or school that have successfully implemented choice and/or presentations by people with experience and expertise in the field.
STEP SIX By no later than May 1993, a districtwide selection committee of building administrators, teachers, and parents should be formed. (Because of its unique composition, the LSACC committee could be the committee.) The charge of the committee should be to evaluate and select building core curriculum and program diversity plans for implementation. Specific selection criteria should be developed, including guarantees that a balanced number of programs will be selected for each region.
STEP SEVEN: In June 1993, all buildings must submit their plans for a comprehensive core curriculum and diverse program options to the selection committee.
STEP EIGHT: In October 1993 at least six building core curriculum and program diversity plans will be selected for implementation in the 1994-95 school year.
STEP NINE: The process outlined in step eight should be repeated each year until all buildings have implemented their core curriculum and program diversity plans. (The plans submitted by June and selected for implementation must be in place by October of the following school year.)
During the 1993-94 school year, the districtwide committee should develop an annual evaluation procedure that uses annual reports and other identifiable tools and indicators to guarantee that we are offering the best programs possible and that our choice system is serving our community well.
The evaluation process should take place at both the building and district level. Within a building, information from administrators, teachers, parents, and students should be used regarding their satisfaction, concerns, achievement, and so forth. For example, an exit survey could be completed by those parents and students who leave a school to determine what they like, what they did not like, what caused them to move, and what would encourage them to stay. The information could be very valuable in determining what people want and expect from schools.
The district's evaluation should look at all the information compiled by individual school buildings to assess how well choice is working in the overall system. For evaluation to be successful, the LSD must develop appropriate instruments and processes that take into account more than test scores and staff feedback. This development process should involve parents and building staff in addition to central administrators.
The committee believes ongoing evaluation and feedback are essential to determine how successful or functional various programs are and whether there are students whose special needs are not being met within the existing program. The Lansing Schools: A Capital Choice Committee should be invited to continue its participation in the process of establishing and evaluating schools of choice for the Lansing schools. Over time its membership should continue to be two-thirds parents.
If the Board follows the schedule above and evaluates the program, it will increase the chance for school choice to be successful in Lansing.