In the following message, Deputy Superintendent of School Improvement and Redesign Susanne Griffin-Ziebart provides more details about the “portfolio schools” included in the proposed Strategic Plan.
Although there has been some information included in educational literature about “portfolio schools,” much of what has been written does not reflect the model that is being proposed for Bibb County through the Strategic Plan. In some large urban school districts, “portfolio schools” are characterized by:
- Charter school expansion,
- Reconstituting/closing “failing” schools, and
- Test-based accountability.
These are not the cornerstones of the Bibb County model.
In the Bibb County model, “portfolio schools” are designed, first and foremost, to provide all students with rigorous instruction that meets or exceeds all federal and state requirements while providing students, and their parents, with an opportunity to choose an educational experience that furthers students’ skills in an area of particular interest.
We have excellent examples of interest-based schools that already exist in Bibb County, including Alexander II, which has a science and math focus, and Vineville Academy, which has a fine arts focus. And, although we have not yet fully developed school options in other areas, we have put courses in place across the District that recognize the positive impact that interest-based learning has on student engagement and effort. Our career pathways at the high schools, Hutchings Career Center, and the International Baccalaureate Program at Central High School are excellent examples of our efforts to use interest-based learning to improve student achievement. We are excited about working with internal and external stakeholders to develop a system that provides interest-based options to all of our students.
Moving toward offering a portfolio of schools reflects a significant change and will require substantial planning. The Strategic Plan acknowledges the complexity of the process and outlines a yearlong process for addressing:
- Calendar and scheduling (including addressing school start and end times, extended day opportunities, and Open Campus);
- Staffing, including administrative, instructional, and non-instructional staff;
- Student enrollment and/or assignment (i.e., including assignment to alternative settings);
- Curriculum (i.e., including implementation of Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, local requirements, and “interest-based” curricular focus);
- Extended day programs (i.e., aligning focus of afterschool programming with school focus);
- Professional development;
- Technology (i.e., including infrastructure, equipment, software and training);
- Construction, facilities, and maintenance;
- Registration and records;
- Federal and state programs; and
- Communication with internal and external stakeholders
We believe that by involving a broad range of individuals in the planning process we will be better positioned to implement the portfolio schools model with success.
Parents and community members have asked many questions about the process for assigning students to portfolio schools. The specifics of how students will be assigned will be determined during the planning process next school year. However, as the process is developed, we will consider impacts on students (e.g., student priorities, length of bus ride, sibling requests, etc.) and district impacts (e.g., transportation costs). We will also adhere to all federal and state guidelines for assigning students to school sites including, but not limited to:
- No Child Left Behind requirements;
- House Bill 251 (which provides public school choice for local systems);
- Senate Bill 10 (which provides special needs school vouchers);
- McKinney-Vento Title 10c; and
Because the Strategic Plan is a multi-year plan that sets the direction of the District, utilizing a year to plan such a comprehensive shift in the educational delivery model allows for additional involvement of schools and departments, as well as time for communicating with internal and external stakeholders. Through a strong planning process, we can ensure that all components of the portfolio model are both detailed and coordinated.
We are thrilled to engage in a process to provide highly rigorous and highly engaging education to all students in our district.