DeKalb – SWSS – Strategic Waiver School System

Stan Jester
Board Of Education
District 1

The Board of Education will meet on December 7  to discuss a number of things including various charter related items. In addition to the Chamblee Charter High School and Destiny Academy charters renewal petitions, Superintendent Green will request that the board approve a letter of intent to become a  Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS).
The Georgian Educator posted Kirk Lunde’s thoughts arguing for a district of Charter Clusters as a way to holistically help students and families in DCSS.
Here are Dr. Stephen Green’s thoughts on the Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS).

Superintendent Stephen Green

School Flexibility Option Update
From: Dr. R Stephen Green
DeKalb Schools Superintendent

The Board will be presented with an opportunity to adopt a resolution supporting a Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS) Letter of Intent at the December 7, 2015, Business Meeting. This Letter of Intent will allow the District to notify the Georgia Department of Education that the District is pursuing the SWSS option, and it will begin the process of the District collaborating with the Department of Education on the SWSS application.
Some general reminders that should continue to be considered by the Board:
The District would be faced with an April 1, 2016, deadline to submit any SWSS application to the GA DOE. What is unique in this process is that staff from the GA DOE would work with District staff to guide the District through the application process prior to the DeKalb Board adopting a resolution in support of the application. This resolution adoption would need to occur at the March Board meeting at the latest to meet the April 1, 2016, deadline.
While a Strategic Waiver School System does not require local school governance as a charter system would, it does allow for flexibility from state laws and GA DOE polices and regulations. This flexibility comes in the form of clearly enumerated waiver requests in the SWSS application, and the waivers would be those that are applicable to the full district. This differs from a charter system application where the District as well as individual schools can request specific waivers.
The Board would still be legally required to hold a Public Hearing prior to adopting a resolution in support of a SWSS application, and the District would engage the community to seek input on the SWSS application and requested waivers prior to that point.
As a final note, what is also unique in this approach is that the opportunity for a school or clusters to collaborate and petition for charter status is still available should the District become a Strategic Waiver School System. The SWSS option allows the District to avoid forcing a governance model onto schools and clusters that may legitimately not want to pursue charter status while still allowing charter status to occur after it initiates at the grass-roots level.

6 responses to “DeKalb – SWSS – Strategic Waiver School System

  1. I am glad Dr. Green realizes the current administrators need help to put together a legitimate proposal. The potential failure of a flexibility proposal, and remaining a status quo district without waivers, would be disastrous.

  2. Dekalb Inside Out

    Why do you say status quo would be disastrous? Waivers are permission from the GaDOE to break state laws … like class size requirements. The district might have to actually spend money in the classroom.

  3. It would be disastrous in a theoretical sense. Years of watching the GaDOE fail to enforce their rules leads me to believe anything goes.

  4. Unless I do not really understand the SWSS governance model – and this is probably the case, it appears that this is “Status Quo” with waivers? I know that Gwinnett County schools use this model and seem to be successful, but the Gwinnett School Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks rules with an iron fist. While, he has, for the most part, a long-term, stable BOE members, he still runs the show. Stan, do you have any early thoughts on SWSS?

  5. I’m going to an all day workshop on SWSS next Thursday. I’ll write something up afterwards. On Dec 7, I’m sure the administration will present something at the board meeting. We are all ramping up quickly on this.