The mission of the Jamestown Schools, as set out by the Board of Education, is to provide our student’s high quality, 21st century learning experiences within and beyond our classrooms so that our graduates are prepared to excel in college, career, and life. In addition, the newly adopted five-year JPS Strategic Plan directs us all to ensure academic excellence and equity, create an engaging and nurturing environment for our students, improve communication and deepen engagement of our families and wider community, and implement operational standards and practices that improve, support and measure student success. The vision of the JPS Board is to see every student learning every day. An important facet of reaching these goals is to have a strong Shared Decision Making Team (SDMT) in every Jamestown school. The Shared Decision Making Team consists of administrators, teachers, parents, students and community members. The SDMT can also have paraprofessionals, support staff, and even student members. These teams are empowered to make decisions to improve student performance their individual schools.
Why Shared Decision Making?
Shared decision making represents a shift to extend some decision-making authority from school districts to individual schools. NYS Education Regulations identifies the purpose of school-based planning and shared decision making to improve the educational performance of all students in the school, regardless of such factors as socioeconomic status, race, sex, language background, or disability. So SDMTs are as concerned with equity as they are with performance. Every public school district must have a plan for the participation by teachers and parents with administrators and school board members in school-based planning and shared decision-making.
“Shared Decision Making Teams are based on the thought that school staff, students, parents, and the community make better decisions when people who are closest to the implementation of the potential decision participate in making the decision,” said JPS Superintendent Tim O. Mains. “Shared decision making provides opportunities for schools to explore ways to restructure delivery of instruction and services to better meet the needs of students through a collaborative effort of everyone who has the best interests of the students at heart. SDMTs are more than advisory in nature; they are deliberative, decision-making bodies.”
What do Shared Decision Making Teams Do?
JPS SDMTs must focus on improving student performance and meeting the targets set in the School Comprehensive Education Plan (SCEP) in accordance with the District’s performance benchmarks. SDMTs do more than make decisions; they also analyze, discuss and plan. The teams deliberate about the key metrics of their school’s success in order to set a path for school improvement. At Love Elementary School, the SDMT has begun work on their SCEP by looking at the mission and guiding principles of their school and how it aligns with the district mission. They are also brainstorming ideas and listing methods on how school leaders can strengthen relationships with school staff and the community.
At Ring Elementary School, the SDMT has been meeting regarding their SECP creating school wide goals to share with their constituents. For example, one goal Ring’s team developed is to better communications between the school and constituents and the team is looking into specific ways they can do that in their school. The work of SDMTs stems from the belief that the productivity of schools is critically dependent upon the degree to which members of the school community, especially teachers and parents, understand and share in the District’s mission, vision and goals which shape their work with students. Shared Decision Making is understood to be the major component of site-based management, a vehicle for effecting organizational change and educational reform in the Jamestown Public Schools.
A Shared Decision Making Steering Committee was formed to provide definition to the process and to endeavor, on a district level, to do SDMTs are attempting to accomplish at the school level. The Steering Committee is chaired by Superintendent Mains and is comprised of representatives from central administration, elementary and secondary principals, the district’s bargaining units, and the City Council PTA. A Shared Decision Making Manual is posted on the JPS website. The purpose of the manual is to establish the parameters and expectations under which the District’s Shared Decision Making Program will operate. These guidelines provide accurate information to members of SDMTs and have the full support and commitment of the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools. In addition to monitoring the Shared Decision Making process, the Steering Committee continues to provide guidance to the district in matters involving school-based management. Each school will be accountable for making an annual progress report to the school’s community and all constituencies.
Contact your neighborhood school if interested in joining its Shared Decision Making Team.