B.L.T. Philosophy

Assumptions in Shared Decision-Making


In order for our shared decision making model to be successful, we must trust each other, we must delegate different tasks to people interested in seeing them through, and we must trust that they are doing their best to represent their colleagues.

It is not possible for any one of us to be involved in all of the discussion and details of everything that is happening within the school, and we can’t all know enough about everything that happens at Blaine to make the best decisions for the whole school. We have to trust those who have spent the time, done the research, debated the issue, surveyed the stakeholders, and then done their best to come up with a recommendation to best serve the entire school program.

Areas Covered By Our Shared Decision-Making Model Are:


School Issues, Program, Policies, Budget and Procedures
Initiators to address the above areas are:
Individuals
BLT Leaders
Subject Area Specialists
Standing Committees
Administrators
Counselors
SIT
PTA Board Members
Student Council
 
Principal


The principal has decision-making authority in personnel related matters covered by contract including, but not limited to, schedule assignment and supervision of classroom teaching. They also have the authority to re-channel any proposal that is a direct violation of school board policy, state law, or administrative contract responsibilities. Ultimately, the principal is held accountable for the decisions made by the school.
 
 Building Leadership Team Leaders


By adopting this model, Blaine strives for a Building Leadership Team (BLT) that will be made up of one teacher from K-2, one from 3-5, one from 6-8, one support staff member, one special education staff member, one classified staff member, the assistant principal, the principal, and a parent representative. (The parent representative will be the PTA president, or a designee on behalf of the PTA president.) These individuals will be called BLT Leaders. This make-up was chosen because it best facilitates consistent communication and authentic involvement and/or representation for every staff member in school-wide decisions.
 
BLT Leaders have the authority to represent their teams in school-wide decisions where they have gained consensus from members of their team formally or informally.
 
BLT Leaders – Definition and Responsibilities


BLT Leaders are selected by the staff and are responsible for representing the views of their individual team members on school-wide policy, program, budget, and procedures through a consensus decision-making model.
 
Prior to the start of every school year BLT Leaders will vote on whether to receive a stipend for carrying out these duties, or designate the stipend amount to be returned to the school.  The vote will be a private ballot and majority rules. It is recommended that Team Leaders serve a maximum of two years in order to give other staff members the opportunity to serve. 
 
Process of Reaching a Final Recommendation


Definition of Consensus
Consensus, in its simplest application, means exactly what it implies, namely, “I consent to this” or in a staff setting, there is a general agreement or accord. It is always most desirable to reach full consensus.
 
Consensus is not about voting. Voting produces winners and losers. Consensus is a strategy that involves everyone playing a role in the decision making of the group. In order for this to be successful it is important to be open to compromise. Consensus means coming together with different opinions and sharing them to create one set of recommendations that transcend the beliefs and opinions of the individual. It means that to make a better or greater decision, we may have to give and take. The BLT must develop conflict management skills, openly acknowledge concerns and problems, act as self-empowered individuals, pose questions, trust and respect each other, and serve with a unity of purpose.
 
In our model, the BLT Leaders strive to reach consensus representing their team viewpoints. All staff have been given an opportunity to express their points of view through the BLT Leaders. They are also responsible for including and discussing minority viewpoints so that their final proposal is a best effort at having considered all points of view and fairly representing them through the process of deliberation and discussion. However, once a consensus decision is made, it is expected that though they didn’t prevail on a particular point, they will support the majority view. There is one exception to this. If new information becomes available that significantly impacts the proposed recommendation, the BLT would discuss and make the decision to reexamine the proposal.
 
If the BLT cannot come to consensus, the decision will be brought to the entire staff for a vote. A two-thirds majority is needed for the item to be adopted (as taken from the SEA contract).
 
Protocol for Bringing Items Forward



Step 1. 
Agenda items related to any issues, program, policies, budget, and procedures will be submitted to BLT Leaders. All BLT meetings are open meetings – all staff and/or parents who wish to attend as observers, may do so. However, staff members or parents wishing to add an agenda item to the BLT meeting, must go through a BLT Leader. Agenda items are due one week prior to the meetings – they must be given to a BLT Leader before the start of the meeting one week prior to the proposed meeting.
 
Step 2.
Once an item is on the agenda, BLT Leaders will determine how long is needed for feedback and decision-making. A timeline will be established and communicated.
 
Step 3.
BLT Leaders should take the item back to their teams for discussion. The item and its description will also be published in the BLT minutes. It is ideal that the BLT Leaders reach consensus with their teams on the issue before the BLT Leaders decide on the issue. If there is an issue that teams must discuss together, there will be time given during the staff meeting. Otherwise, BLT Leaders will solicit input in other ways.
 
Step 4.
BLT Leaders will represent their team’s position and feedback on the issue at the appropriate BLT meeting.
 
Step 5a.
BLT Leaders make a recommendation based on the feedback from their teams. Final recommendations will be published in the BLT minutes and distributed to all staff.
        
Step 5b. It is the responsibility of any staff member(s) who cannot accept the recommendation to file a “Statement of Concern.” See the “Safeguard for Expression of Minority Viewpoints” section for elaboration on this point.
 
Step 6.
Final recommendations will be published via BLT Leader meeting minutes. Formal adoptions will go into effect one week after a decision is made. If a staff member wishes to file a “Statement of Concern,” it must be done within one week of the decision. In this case, the BLT would have an additional week to respond to the “Statement of Concern.” This means that it could take two weeks before the formal adoption of any recommendation. The only exception to this timeline is an event that necessitates an emergency decision or a decision that requires immediate response. In the event of an emergency or the need for an expeditious programmatic decision, an emergency staff meeting will be called to make the decision.
 
Recommendations Brought Directly to the Entire Staff by the BLT
The BLT may choose to bring a recommendation to the whole staff in a staff meeting. When a recommendation is presented to the whole staff, consensus is necessary to adopt the recommendation. Consensus requires a two-thirds majority vote to approve the recommendation as submitted.
 
Safeguard for Expression of Minority Viewpoints
When a decision is made, a statement describing the decision and the proposed date of implementation will be announced/published to the entire staff.
 
It is the responsibility of any staff member who cannot accept the decision to file a “Statement of Concern.” There is a form that should be filled out and returned to a BLT Leader. The form requests a clear description of the stated concern, reasons for opposition to the decision, and also suggested revision or alternate solutions that would address the issues involved.
 
The “Statement of Concern” must be submitted to the BLT Leaders for review within one week of the decision. The recommended decision would be revisited and the concern would be given consideration.
 
If the BLT Leaders view any proposed changes as being significant to the extent that the recommended decision needs revision, the revised recommendation would go back to the teams for approval.
 
Implementation of a Decision
Once a decision is made, it will not be subject for revision or review for one calendar year, unless otherwise stipulated (e.g. a review at the semester). A “Statement of Concern” can be filed in order to have an issue reviewed by the BLT. The BLT will respond to the “Statement of Concern.”

Maintenance Recommendations for this System of Decision-Making


  1. Presume positive intent. We’re all trying to do our beset, and therefore, give kids our best. Disagreements are usually over the how to do it, not over what we are trying to do.
  2. Trust that each person, whatever the assigned role in the decision-making process is trying to do the best he/she can to equitably deliver service or implement a policy that works best for all.
  3. Have enough investment in the school and each other to contribute your opinion (even if you are the minority). A school with no conflict or disagreement is usually a school that’s not doing very much.
  4. Read the published minutes, attend meetings, read committee minutes, respond to surveys, express your opinion, know what’s going on, and know when a particular decision that affects you will be made.
  5. Accept that your individual responsibility in this model means that you are both an individual and team player. You can support the majority on some issues, even if they may not represent exactly the way you would like to see something done.
  6. This model is open to review each spring and will remind in place until an alternative model that addresses the above stated criteria receives a two-thirds majority in its favor.
  7. It is recommended that the BLT and staff receive training on the decision making process as needed or appropriate.

The Blaine Decision-Making Model meets the terms of the 2010-2013 Contract as outline below:


a. For purposes of collaborative site-based decision making, each building will establish its own committee structure. However, at a minimum, each school must form a Building Leadership Team. The collaborative decision making process should be communicated to the entire staff through a written document, which will include a decision making matrix.
 
b. The Building Leadership Team for each building shall consist of at least:
 

1) The principal, and
 
2) Five (5) elected SEA represented staff
 
To the extent possible, the Building Leadership Team should reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the school staff and school community. The Building Leadership Team must be selected by a process that is supported by the SEA represented staff at the school.

 
c.  The primary function of a Building Leadership Team is to promote and facilitate the collaborative decision making process which affects academic achievement and to identify how to support the needs of students and staff in buildings. The more specific responsibilities of the Building Leadership Team are to oversee the facilitation and development of:
 

1.)   A continuous school improvement plan(CSIP) including the configuration and structure of the school’s classes and/or program offerings.
 
2.) The development of a school-wide professional development plan to support the CSIP.
 
3.) The school’s budget
 

d. Because one of the shared beliefs is that those impacted by decisions must be given an opportunity to be involved in the decision making, the parties recognize that extra effort may be required to provide opportunity for representatives of the paraprofessional and office professional staff to participate in the work of the Building Leadership Team. Buildings should examine the possibilities of altered work week scheduling, shared office coverage, limited use of voice mail coverage, and other strategies that encourage and enable such participation on behalf of paraprofessional and office staff representatives. Schools should also make an effort to provide an opportunity for non-supervisory certificated itinerant staff to participate in decisions impacting them, as appropriate.
 
e. The scheduling and assignment of teachers, the assignment of students to classes, and the daily schedule of classes and activities shall be made with staff participation and be consistent with the CSIP, while recognizing that the principal has the right to make the final decision. In May of each year, employees may submit three choices in priority order for assignment of grade level/subject area the following year. If the choice cannot be honored, a conference will be held to discuss why an employee will be placed in an area that was not requested.
 
f. To ensure staff participation in collaborative decision making, buildings need to establish processes for that involvement. Buildings may wish to identify committees or other means to accomplish the work of the school (e.g., health, safety, hiring, budget) and assist with the responsibilities assigned to the Building Leadership Team.
 
g. Processes for establishment of building committees and the membership of such committees must be approved by a majority of staff at the school. Failing such support, the building committees and membership shall be determined by the Building Leadership Team.
 
h. The Building Leadership Team and building committees shall include parent/family members, students, and community representatives as appropriate. Building-based committees will seek input from other organizational structures (e.g. PTSA, site council) as appropriate.
 
i. If there is a conflict between a decision made by the BLT , or building/program staff, (within the responsibilities set out above) and an instructional council or other faculty representative body (per 5 below), the decision of the BLT of staff will take precedence.
 
j. When a staff, following the school’s decision making matrix, cannot reach consensus or at least a 2/3 vote on budget, the professional development plan, or CSIP, a representative from SEA and representative from SPS will meet with the staff involved in an attempt to resolve the issues. If after a reasonable attempt the issues remain unresolved, the issues will be forwarded to the Chief Academic Officer for a final decision. Members of the decision-making body may submit a statement to the Chief Academic Officer before the final decision is made. SEA and SPS will strive to have a final decision within five (5) working days from the date that the issues are initially raised.”

To be adopted, the Blaine Shared Decision-Making Model needs a minimum two-thirds vote. To be changed, a two-thirds vote is necessary.

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