Part of my last post was speaking up for those who can’t in Trump’s America. So what are some ways Expanded Learning can speak up? Here are some ways Expanded Learning can speak for those who cannot speak or listen to what’s really going on. Keep in mind, there are lots of ways to expand your presence, I’m just focusing these lesser-known opportunities. Good luck!!
School Site Council
Almost all of the schools receiving State or Federal dollars for expanded learning programs are receiving dollars for Title I also. (Not familiar with Title I? Here you go) Why is that important? In order to spend Title I dollars, a plan for spending needs to be approved by School Site Council (SSC). Typically SSC is made up of parents, students, teachers, and the principal. If you represent the expanded learning program at your site, it’s important to understand how the school site is spending their dollars. This way you can see what initiatives are being rolled out and how you can compliment or support them appropriately. Also, if something doesn’t make sense, ask questions!! School Site Council is intended to represent all the stakeholders of a particular school. If something doesn’t make sense or sounds like a waste of money, ask the principal to justify the spending. I would recommend doing it as respectfully as possible, but don’t just nod and acquiesce because you feel intimidated. You serve the community and the students and families who live in it – act accordingly.
School Board Meetings
This one is hit and miss. Typically School Board Meetings are under-attended and decisions are made with only a certain few knowing what’s going on. Every board meeting has a portion for open comments – community members will speak on various issues. You can speak during these times but it might be a better idea to sit back and listen. This will give you a better idea of what issues are pressing the District your program is working in. Like it or not, these issues will likely impact your school – so be vigilant. School Boards need to post their agendas before the actual meetings so this will give you an idea of what will be covered. Remember, school board officials are elected officials, they are supposed to represent the community. They’re not deities that need to be appeased. If your school board also has a student representative, it would make sense to see if that student participates in an expanded learning program. If they don’t – find out why!! The student representative can also be an advocate for your programs in a way that is palpable for the board to receive.
LCAP Engagement Meetings (California)
In California, our dollars are documented in plans called LCAP (Local Control Accountability) plans. These plans are part of what a School Site Council would approve. The in order to complete these plans, school districts need to show documentation of how they engaged with their stakeholders. This is the PERFECT opportunity to express your concerns or advocate for more resources. It’s important to understand that these meetings may, or may not, be advertised well – so you need to ask your Principal when these meetings intend to happen. If the principal doesn’t know – that tells you something. Ask around and see how you can be part of these conversations to advocate for the students and families you serve.
Develop a Communication Plan
Grantees are asked to create a program plan to document how they intend on spending the dollars they’ve received. Plans might ask how stakeholders were involved in making the plan. This usually results in a generic response like, “we surveyed students.” Okay, now what. How are you going to ensure everyone knows what you are offering and why they need to be a part of it? Every student, parent, teacher, or community member needs to know how you change lives. Are you on the school’s website? Do you have your own website? Have you sent home mailers? Are you linked up with the school’s Student Management System (PowerSchool or JupiterGrades)? Are you visible at all the school functions? Have you developed your brand? These are the questions you should ask your team at the site level to improve the level of awareness you have about the communities you serve. This is a contact sport – get after it!
There’s never a silver bullet. These are just some opportunities to speak up and listen to become better at serving your communities. Make yourself and your organization indispensable. In order to do that correctly – you need to know what your communities need.
For breakfast, I had a Bulletproof Coffee.