Friday, August 6, 2010

Concerns Shared by Cuthbertson Parents

For those of you just learning about a plan by UCPS to bring ‘The Academy at Cuthbertson’ to CHS:

Many of us only learned of the proposal when info began to circulate among families after seeing metal detectors being brought to CHS. They were told by school personnel that the metal detectors were for South Providence School students. As some parents began to contact CHS, Mr. Jackson was prompted to send out an announcement to confirm that we were indeed receiving new students and details to provide clarification. In his Sunday August 1, 2010 announcement he included that the specifics of this proposal would be presented at UCPS’s Curriculum/Educational Committee meeting on Tuesday August 3, 2010. Those of us that were able to attend were given a better understanding of the program, and Dr. Davis’ intention of using G Wing at CHS.

The issue of locating an alternative learning program on CHS’s campus is a two -pronged issue according to UCPS. First - All students who have committed singular, multiple, or repeat/chronic offenses as defined in UCPS Board of Education Policy Manual (Chapter 4 Sect 4-3b) causing them to become long-term suspended (and qualify) are entered into UCPS’s alternative learning program, no matter the nature or severity of their offense. All students in this program have been housed on South Providence School’s (SPS) campus while suspension is being served. However, they do not become enrolled as SPS students. They remain students of their home school, listed as ‘visiting’ students to SPS, until they can be returned to their home school. Second - SPS is apparently over capacity and unable to accommodate the total number of students entering into this program. The solution arose to identify a number of those students that were the least violent offenders and find seats for them elsewhere. Cuthbertson HS was chosen because we under capacity and located in close proximity to SPS. Per Dr. Davis, this concept has been developed over time and discussed by his staff as far back as April and May of this year. We weren’t given a specific timeline as to when Mr. Jackson was brought in to the discussion, but delivery of his information came to us in the form an E-Newsletter sent out on Sunday August 1, 2010. No CHS parent or CHS committee was informed prior August 1, 2010. The decision to implement this new program conflicts with many procedural and philosophical statements published by UCPS Board of Education, and Cuthbertson High School.

Four main concerns of parents:

• UCPS Board of Education appears to be inconsistent with procedure as defined by policy in their manual which requires a vote by the Board for approval of an Alternative Learning Program -
          Chapter 5-17 states: The Alternative Learning Program of Studies shall be jointly developed by the central office curriculum and instructional staff, regular middle and high school staff, and staff from South Providence. The Alternative Learning Program of Studies will be reviewed, updated, and presented for board approval annually as a part of the High School Program of Studies.

• Cuthbertson High School’s administration appears to have bypassed a critical operational or procedural step in agreeing to allow the installation of this program while not informing or including CHS’s Site-based Management Team -
          CHS website SbMT reference: (These) team(s) are chartered with the authority to guide much of the operational and educational processes of the school. This site-based management approach shifts decision-making from the state, superintendent, and school board to those with a personal, vested interest in this community: our school’s educational staff and parents.

• UCPS Board of Education lists fourteen Core Value principles on their website. The process by which this program has been brought to Cuthbertson conflicts with largely all of the principles stated. I won’t list them all, but two very most compelling:
          a. Leadership - … did not “engage stakeholders” (CHS families)
          b. Customer-Driven Quality (i.e. Student/Stakeholder Focus) - did not “Meet(ing)/exceed(ing) student and other stakeholders’ (e.g., parents, businesses, suppliers, taxpayers) needs and expectations must be a constant focus of the system. Knowing and continually monitoring these needs/expectations (current and emerging) are essential functions at all levels of the organization.

• UCPS Policy Manual Chapter 2, Sect 2-7 Fiscal Management Standards: The superintendent and finance officer will keep the board sufficiently informed regarding the budget through periodic reports and any other appropriate means so that the board can deliberate and evaluate the budget -

          This program serves a very small number (approximately 15) of temporary student members and as such, applying a far-reaching, non-traditional approach that requires four bus trips each day, one additional administrator, and two additional teachers, etc. should have been supported by cost data of all its components, and analysis for comparison to cost of traditional practice of installing a mobile classroom. UCBOE members should request supporting financial data prior to being asked to support any program. And no alternatives were presented. UCPS’s historical and customary solution to over-capacity schools has been to add mobile units. I.E., New Town Elementary School opened in 2007 and installed mobile classrooms in 2009.