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School Quality Assurance Program helps new administrator dig into school’s policies

Written on February 6th, 2009

Paul Marcus says he now has 12-15 items to work on over the coming months

As a first-year administrator at Orangeville Christian School, Paul Marcus says he found the School Quality Assurance Program (SQAP) very valuable and now has a list of things he is working to improve.

“It really helped me to see where we were at as a school and what needed to be done,” says the principal and Chief Operating Officer (COO).

“Coming into the role of the new principal, I didn’t necessary know all the policies of the school, and this made me sink my teeth into reading all of them,” he says, adding it helped him understand what the school was about and how proper protocol works.

The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) offers the SQAP to all its elementary member schools on a six-year rotation to help them provide quality Christian education. The program spans about a year and a half. The five domains the SQAP examines are school identity, school management, academic performance, school culture and community relations.

Local review teams are formed to work through the different domains. Orangeville Christian Schools’ team consists of the principal/COO, a new board member, a teacher, a new community member and someone who has helped with strategic planning.

Orangeville’s local review team worked from September to December to complete the worksheets in the program. The worksheets include questions about various school policies.

The local review team took a different approach to the process. Marcus says he completed the worksheets and had the team review them and ensure they were tight, rather than have all team members compile the worksheets. This was a more efficient method for the school, due to its small size and limited human resources, says Marcus.

The final report was submitted to its board, and the school is awaiting an April visit from SQAP auditors. The auditors validate the report and assess and prioritize its recommendations.

With the report’s recommendations in-hand, Marcus says he has a list of 12-15 items he aims to work on from now until June.

The school had been going through a re-structuring process and moving towards a new governance COO model. Marcus says policies were lagging behind the new model and the SQAP enabled them to clearly see what needs to be officially changed.

“(The School Quality Assurance Program) made me go through committee and board handbooks, and as I went through them I realized there was a significant amount of disarray there that had happened over the years when we were doing the re-structuring,” says Marcus.

Through the process he says he became aware for the need to organize the handbooks so the committees and board are adequately prepared in the future. The school is also working to revise its constitution.

Another area Marcus plans to work on is organizing the school’s safety procedures into one coherent document.

Marcus says he and the school’s administrative assistant have been sharing ideas and collaborating on the policies.

“It is a lot of work but I found it to be very valuable both for myself and getting into the job and finding out more about the school and the community, but also just in terms of getting organized and I think that is very important for an organization to be organized and be professional,” says Marcus.

Marcus says Orangeville is moving towards seeking public accreditation through the Canadian Hallmarks Institute (CHI).

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