• Decision Making in Extended Class at SWW

    Decision making is an important aspect of Extended Class. It provides students with a voice for change in their school, community, and in their world. This encourages them to take iniative.

    Major school decisions are made by students and staff voting on proposals: one person-one vote.  Some decisions must be made by the staff, Principal or School Based Planning Team because of law, education policies of New York State and the City School District, and the spirit and philosophy of School Without Walls.

    Decision-making at SWW is a complex process but can be generally explained using the following dimensions of responsibility:
    1. When the issue affects only students, any student, staff member, or parent can follow the decision-making process to initiate a proposal for the change.  A proposal may be discussed and voted on if and only if 51% of those students enrolled in the school are available to participate. Majority vote among students will determine the outcome, unless there are legal or policy violations, or if the outcome conflicts with previously scheduled activities.  (e.g. social events, travel, availability of courses to meet student needs, lunch, fund-raising, clubs, extra curricular activities, sports.)  All policy changes will be recorded in a portfolio kept by the school secretary.

    2. When the issue affects staff directly (i.e. teaching time, class assignments, roles, purchasing instructional materials and equipment, personal conflicts, teaching strategies to help students attain SWW goals) the entire staff will be responsible.  Students or parents may suggest that staff deal with specific concerns at staff or SBPT meetings.  Students may also demonstrate their position by using the decision-making process.  Staff will seek student input whenever appropriate.

    3. When the issue affects the entire school community, the decision will be made by the SWW School Based Planning Team.  Although this Team is ultimately responsible for making these kinds of decisions, representatives should, if time permits, seek feedback from their constituencies.  Evaluation Form changes will be decided by School Based Planning Team.

    4. When the issue is of an emergency nature, the SWW principal will make the decision.  The principal will consult with as many appropriate constituencies as possible.


    The decision-making process was developed by the school community in 1976 in order to ensure a more effective process that involved the maximum number of students in decision-making.


    The process is designed to help students in:

          1. Defining issues and needs

          2. Presenting their views of problems and/or proposed solutions

          3. Refining rough draft proposals

          4. Coming to a clear understanding of the final proposal

          5. Voting in an informed and reasoned manner

    For this process to work effectively all of the school must be available at the same time: all extended classes must be in their rooms during the time allotted for school-wide decision making - Friday mornings, 10:30 - 11:30.  Proposals may not be distributed after 11:30 AM.