Giving Parents Options: Strategies for Informing Parents and Implementing Public School Choice And Supplemental Educational Services Under No Child Left Behind
September 2007
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Managing SES at the school level

As SES programs continue to develop in districts across the country, individual school sites where SES must be offered are becoming involved increasingly not only in efforts to inform parents about their options but also in many aspects of the day-to-day operation of SES programs. Following are some considerations for districts in managing SES operations at the school level.

For more information about involving schools and school staffs in parent notification and outreach efforts, see "Involving schools and school staff" on p. 14.

Arranging for provider access to school facilities. For a number of reasons, provider access to school sites is proving to be a central component of effective SES implementation in many districts. Districts are encouraged to carefully consider the benefits of allowing SES providers access to school facilities and to set uniform, districtwide policies regarding site access wherever appropriate. In other cases, districts may need to work individually with principals to open school doors to providers.

Improving provider access by setting reasonable rent. Districts can improve access by making space available to providers at a fair and reasonable price and by treating providers the same as other similarly classified organizations seeking use of school facilities. Districts should be sure to disclose to providers all applicable fees up front.

Ensuring equity when demand for site access is high or space is limited. In some cases, allowing all providers equal access to school facilities may seem unmanageable—especially if the number of providers serving the district is high—and in practice may result in the chaotic circumstance of having many providers, with each serving only a handful of students at a particular school. In other cases, allowing equal access to school sites may simply be impractical due to limited availability of space. In cases such as these, districts have considered limiting provider access to school sites to ease implementation.

If opting to limit access to facilities, a district should be sure to develop fair and transparent policies and procedures for determining which providers can serve students on school sites and solicit the input of providers and parents in doing so.

A district could devise a variety of processes to distribute access to school sites among providers. For instance, a district could match each school with a small number of providers based on provider capacity and the mutual interest of providers and school administrators in providing services at individual schools. Alternatively, a district could randomly assign a number of providers to schools, again taking into account providers' respective capacities to serve students and available space.

Making it work

If a district opts to limit provider access to school facilities, it should be mindful of the effects of such policies on the ability of parents to choose a provider freely. A district should inform parents up front, as part of the notification and enrollment process, about the providers at each school site and about those serving at other sites in the area and the locations of those sites, including in the home. The district must clearly state to parents that they may choose from among any of the providers approved to serve the district, not just those providing services at their child's school.

Setting implementation policies uniformly within and across schools. As providers continue to seek to provide services on school grounds, districts can facilitate service delivery by setting uniform expectations or policies within and across school sites. For instance, districts could set clear expectations as to when services should begin at school sites after the enrollment process has finished. Districts could also set uniform policies as to the school staff with whom providers should communicate and work at school sites (e.g., the district could use designated school-based SES coordinators; see below). Such expectations and policies can assist the implementation not only of programs by multiple providers at one school, but also of programs of one provider at multiple school sites across the district.

Using SES coordinators at school sites. School-based SES coordinators can be crucial components of effective SES implementation, and their use is on the rise in districts across the country. SES coordinators can perform a variety of other important functions, in addition to serving as a point of contact for parents and organizing school-based outreach activities on SES, as discussed above in "Creating parent liaisons or choice-SES coordinators at school sites." SES coordinators can assist in collecting, processing, and forwarding SES applications to the district. They can serve as liaisons between principals and teachers and the providers serving a school's students, and also assist in negotiating provider access to school sites by, for example, helping determine the amount of available space at the school. School-based coordinators can be responsible for overseeing all on-site programs, and can play active roles in monitoring programs and ensuring student attendance. School-based coordinators can also track student attendance at SES programs that are off school grounds.

A district could assign SES coordinators at each school with students eligible for SES, or alternatively each school's principal could do so. An SES coordinator could be compensated for his or her efforts via a stipend or supplemental pay; however this could not be counted toward the district's expenditure requirements for choice and SES purposes.

Making it work

To ensure that SES coordinators do not unduly influence parent choices, districts should ensure that SES coordinators work independently of any provider serving on site, including any SES programs run by the district or school itself. If using school-based coordinators, districts should ensure that they are provided with a thorough orientation about SES—in general terms, and on the individual programs of providers serving the district—before services begin.

Integrating SES and other out-of-school programs. SES is generally not the only out-of-school program offered at a school site but often is just one of a variety of choices, such as extended-day programs and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. To enhance SES implementation, schools should not set SES up as a competitor of these other programs but, with the support of the district, as a complement to them, and, to the extent practicable, integrate SES seamlessly into an overall schedule or menu of out-of-school programming. To this end, schools and districts have arranged for SES to be provided, for instance, on certain days during the week or at certain times, with other programs then operating on other occasions or during the rest of the week. Alternatively, SES can be provided in such a way that students receive services for certain periods of time during the week and then return to a regular, ongoing out-of-school program to engage in other activities.

To the extent appropriate, schools and districts could also consider advertising SES as part of a larger menu of out-of-school programming to further increase parent awareness. For more information on this, see "Presenting SES and other out-of-school programs as complementary" on p. 19.

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Last Modified: 08/18/2008