Questions to Ask About Small School Reform Plans

  1. What role have teachers, parents, and community representatives played in developing the plans for creating new small schools?
  2. What populations will the new schools serve? Will the students select the schools or will the schools select the students? What procedures are in place to ensure that new schools will not cream the best students, but will serve a representative cross section of the population, including special education students and English language learners?
  3. What is the plan for funding the new schools? Is this funding sustainable over the long haul? What procedures are in place to ensure that funding for all schools in the district is equitable and adequate?
  4. How will the new schools be staffed? What options will teachers have? Will contract provisions on seniority, teaching loads, length of the school day, and other responsibilities remain in force? If they will be modified, what process will be used to define new policies?
  5. How will existing administrative structures be changed to support more school-based and team-based decision-making? What will be the lines of authority and responsibility between school-based and central office structures?
  6. What supports will be in place to improve curriculum and instruction in the new schools? Will teacher teams have the common planning time and small class size needed to improve teaching and learning?
  7. What impact will the new schools have on existing schools in the district, including racial balance and the distribution of experienced teachers?
  8. How will the new schools be evaluated? What criteria, besides test scores, will be used? Who will be responsible for district and public review of their progress?
  9. Where will the small schools be housed? What facilities studies have been done? How are these plans being balanced with existing facilities needs in the district? How will small schools in the same building handle shared concerns, like athletics and auditoriums?
  10. Are the new schools intended to be systemwide models for improvement and reform? If so, how will their experience be shared, reviewed, and implemented in the district?