Thursday, April 01, 2010

PPS and new afterschool efforts -- FAQ w As

At each of the regional meetings, there were questions, ideas and concerns raised by staff and board members of after school programs. Below is a summary of these questions, ideas and concerns grouped by topic.

Q: Is the application form on the PPS website?
A: No, it is not on the website right now, but it will be posted when it is released.

Q: Is there a deadline for applications?
A: Yes, but it has not been determined. It depends on the release of the application. Groups will have approximately 3 weeks to complete the application.

Q: Is there an application for each site or each agency?
A: There is an application for each agency, but the agency will need to indicate all the sites.

Q: Where is the SPARC database?

Q: What about programs that serve PPS students in the same group at non-PPS students?
A: If the program is serving PPS students, the organization should apply.


Q: How long will the partnership last?
A: The partnership will be one year – approximately August 2010 to July 2011.

Q: Are you trying to create a shopping list of programs?
A: PPS is creating a "shopping list of programs" that are willing to go to any school in the city for principals to select from (examples could include groups like Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts), but programs that are neighborhood based or work with one school will not be included in the "shopping list."

Q: How many groups do you see applying?
A: Turn out at the meetings has been very high. There are between 45-50 organizations that operate in PPS building that are required to apply and there are about 150+ off-site organizations that could apply as well.

Q: Is this only for organizations providing services in schools?
A: No, it includes organizations that operate off-site as well.

Q: If I have a new program that wants to target specific schools or students, should I apply?
A: Yes. If you expect the program to launch in School Year 2010-11, you should apply even if it doesn't start at the beginning of the school year.

Q: Do we need to provide after school programs daily to be partner?
A: No.

Q: Can the MOU process include a letter of support from the Superintendent for organizations that receive EITC funding?
A: This is something that PPS will look into.

Q: What could cause a group to be declined?
A: There is a rubric and applications will be evaluated based on the rubric. Specific examples could be groups that do not do clearances for staff; groups that do not have annual audits, groups that do not evaluate their program with rigor or groups that do not use curricula.

Q: What about programs that do not provide direct service, but that partner with organizations?
A: This is an important issue and there will be another meeting with these "non-traditional" after school programs think through how the application process applies to them.

Q: Can we partner with another organization?
A: Yes, but details on who would be the approved provider will need to be discussed further.

Q: Can you differentiate how this is different from what we are already doing?
A: We want to formalize the partnerships with after school programs through an MOU. Currently there are some programs have MOU's based on funding (i.e. SES or 21st Century), some have building permits and PPS wants to incorporate the entire agency. Also, groups that don't receive funding from SES or 21st Century do not have a way of officially partnering with PPS.


Q: Will there be funds to support this initiative?
A: No, not initially. This is a non-monetary partnership.


Q: Will principals be the group to approve the programs?
A: No. The applications will be reviewed by an internal team and then will be matched with the schools where the principals indicate that they want the program and/or a service (e.g. an arts program).

Q: Does this benefit after school programs for elementary aged students in any specific ways?
A: This is targeted for students attending after school programs at all grade levels. One of the goals of this process is to make sure that more students, including elementary aged students, have more after school opportunities.

Q: What if the principal says "no" to a program?
A: The principals will be able to decide what programs they want to operate in their school buildings. There are a lot of factors that a principal will consider such as the needs of the student population, transportation, number of PPS programs such as sports, EAP and school clubs. By having a "menu" of programs willing to operate in any school for principals to select from, PPS is hopeful that the matching process will ensure that programs are located in schools with supportive principals.

Q: Will this process help with the buy-in from principals?
A: Yes. There are a lot of principals that want additional after school resources for their schools and this will definitely help. As for an overall understanding about the importance of after school, it will be a lot easier to talk about after school and its importance when we have numbers of students enrolled, opportunities available, needs to fill, etc.

Q: Are you embracing the teachers in this process?
A: Teachers are very important, but at this stage we are working with principals and counselors, as we want teachers to focus on classroom instruction and their other obligations through the end of the school year. Teachers will be a part of this process over the long term.

Q: What type of initiatives are planned to reach parents?
A: There are a lot of plans to reach parents with this information. The "menu" of options will be available on the PPS website on the community resources link for each school. It will also be a part of the community resources guide. Mark Conner, Director of Family Engagement, has already heard the after school needs from parents and is developing a strategy to inform them about the after school options once the partnerships are in place.

Q: Is PPS addressing the issues with teachers and principals about homework?
A: Yes. PPS has a new homework policy that was approved by the Board in September 2009. The policy outlines the requirements for each grade level. PPS knows that there is a lot of work to improve homework assignments and it's a key part of the Pathways work.


Q: Which clearances are required?
A: All providers and any employees of providers who will have direct contact with children must complete three required clearances:  the Act 34 (Criminal Record Check), the Act 151 (Child Abuse History), and the Act 114 of 2006 (FBI Federal Criminal History). The fees to complete the clearances are to be paid by the provider.  

Q: How often will clearances need to be submitted? How long are clearances "fresh"?
A: This question has been sent to the legal department for an answer.

Q: There are two FBI clearances – DPW and Dept. of Education. Which one does PPS accept?
A: At this point PPS accepts both.


Q: In terms of data sharing, is there going to be a form that needs to be signed by the program or parents?
A: The parents will need to sign a FERPA form created by PPS. The organizations will be held to confidentiality standards that will be outlined in the MOU.

Q: Would there be anyway that we could have a FERPA release form that we could insert into our application, rather than a separate form?
A: No, we will need the PPS FERPA form. We will try to get it to organizations as soon as applications are approved so they can be distributed with registration information.

Q: Will assessment information be included in the data exchange, not just the scores?
A: We are still working on the details on information and format of the data-sharing. Please attend any of the data committee meetings held by APOST/United Way if you have specific ideas and needs.

Q: Will you have small working groups to help develop data sharing reports?
A: Yes. There is a question on the application that allows groups to volunteer for a committee.

Q: Will you be tracking if students are in more than one program?
A: Yes, we will have a program code for every program so that students can be matched with the program(s) they are participating in.

Q: Will parents need to fill out a FERPA Form for each program?
A: Yes.

Q: How will organizations feed data to PPS?
A: This has not been determined yet because we do not want to add a burdensome process. Until we have an IT system, everyone will need to be patient and flexible.

Q: Will there be a standard format to report attendance?
A: Yes.

Q: Will PPS require that programs submit names of participants at the beginning of the year?
A: Yes.


Q: When does "getting ready" for college start?
A: PPS is focused on 4 primary check points for Pathways to the Promise – K, 3rd, 6th and 9th Grades. PPS is striving to create a robust "college-going" culture and needs the support of the entire community in this effort.

Q: Are the principles of Pathways to the Promise built into the application? Will there be professional development on these principles?
A: Yes, there is an opportunity in the application for groups to indicate in general terms the ways that their organization / program supports Pathways. For example, there are questions about homework and college preparation. In terms of professional development, PPS will assess the needs of the CBO's/FBO's. PPS is in the beginning stages of developing Pathways and we expect to have professional development opportunities in the future.


Q: Are you looking at partners with MOU's to give them training or access to software?
A: There is no doubt that a city-wide software system and / or a PPS software system for after school would have a lot of benefits. PPS is in the early stages of overhauling its IT system and there is discussion about how to incorporate sports, after school programs into the type of system that is developed. This will not happen in year 1, but it is expected soon.

Q: Will there be some dialogue around CBO's capacity? For example, they only serve X students, but with X valued added, they could increased by Y.
A: Yes, and this application process is the first step in understanding capacity.

Q: Will PPS share citywide best practices on recruiting students and serving schools?
A: Yes, this is a great idea and we will do this. There will be quarterly meetings where we can start to gather this information.

Q: Could this become a volunteer clearing house for programs?
A: Need more information, but yes, it could be a recruitment tool.

Q: Do you expect over time to help programs find where their particular program would be more impactful?
A: Yes. This is a first step in that process.

Ideas, Comments & Concerns:

▪ This seems like a great opportunity so that principals will know what is happening and what is available.

▪ All providers face the same issues – transportation, getting data, etc. – hopefully, this process will be a stepping stone to a better partnership with PPS.

▪ Providers need 3-4 weeks to complete the application.

▪ Many programs need approval from their boards to proceed. A one-pager, a copy of the application and an outline of the requirements would be enough information to approach boards.

▪ Submitting monthly attendance without providing funds will be an extra burden

▪ There are a lot of deliverables (attendance reports, meetings) and benefits are not as clear.

▪ The county requires that programs submit attendance.

▪ Let's hope this helps with transportation.

▪ Autonomy as a cultural institution with academic requirements (NOTE: at this point there are not any academic requirements)

▪ Concern that PPS is trying to make all programs into the same type of program, which has happened in Pittsburgh before, not with PPS, however. (RESPONSE: PPS is not trying to make all programs the same. PPS does want a level of quality across all partner organizations.)

▪ Some programs have relationships with schools, but need permission slips from parents, which are difficult to obtain. (RESPONSE: A lot of programs have an application that parents fill out at the beginning of the year that has blanket parent permission.)

▪ SPARC database is difficult and it doesn't allow partners to remove information that is outdated or incorrect. (RESPONSE: 3rc has made the form easier. 3rc will delete or correct any information that is outdated, but programs need to contact 3rc directly.)

▪ Once we get families engaged, there needs to be additional incentives for parent involvement.

▪ There is a need for after school "booster" groups to interface with the community. Perhaps via conference calls.

▪ PPS needs to visit programs. There is a huge variety of quality and it's a concern – especially for parents.

▪ The formal partnership gives parents confidence about programs that are approved.

▪ Career exploration and employment programs can provide valuable data to help PPS improve its goals around 11th grade PA Academic Standards for Career Education and Work

▪ We need to figure out a way to incorporate a feedback loop for students' interests beyond principals' input and decisions.

▪ There is not a plan for student voice and choice

▪ This is anther data report and multiple are already being filled out.

▪ Link approved programs in PPS parent handbooks

▪ Create an on-line survey to get input on program they want or want to learn more about.

▪ This is exciting and we are glad that after school is being addressed by PPS

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

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