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Principal plans new decision system

By Roxanne Glazier and Josh Podrid
Published: September 2009

In hopes of standardizing the decision-making process and creating a system to collect opinions from students, teachers, and parents, Principal Joel Stembridge plans to redefine how policies are created at South.

When Stembridge arrived at South and began asking people how decisions were made, he received a variety of responses, leading him to the conclusion that no standard procedure currently existed.

“[I] want to try and draw a clear picture for students and parents and teachers so everyone knows how decisions are made and how to enter that process, Stembridge said.

The new process, though not yet finalized, will most likely include several groups including South Senate, Faculty Council, the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO), and the Committee on Program, a group comprised of administrators, teachers, and student representatives. Each group will have the opportunity to suggest new and review potential policies.

Groups will not be able to veto or approve any legislation; however, they will be able to voice their opinions and send reviews to Stembridge and the School Committee members, who will make a final decision.

By attending School Council meetings and emailing Stembridge, parents would also have the opportunity to comment on new policies.

Stembridge wants to make sure he’s hearing the voices of teachers, parents, and students before making a final decision.

“Taking the time to go through this process can be seen by some as inefficient, but on the other hand, we will do better making sure that we include all those voices in decision making, Stembridge said.

Junior and South Senator Dan Sazer looks forward to a new system that grants South Senate and students more influence on school policy.

“I feel that the South Senate is nothing more than an adviser to the administration, Sazer said. “We need more power to get things done, seeing as how we represent every single student at South.

Because so many groups will review ideas and policies will still take many months to create, Stembridge will use his discretion in making quick decisions.

Stembridge will not be willing to change the policy of safety decisions, but he will be open to hearing suggestions on how to deal with the rule afterwards.

For example, Stembridge will not retract the new food policy prohibiting students from eating in the hallways, but he hopes to consult the South Senate on ways to provide comfortable, safe, positive, and informal alternatives to eating on the floor.

Junior and South Senator Jaclyn Horowitz feels that the current system is democratic and effective, and a new system, which may be unnecessary, would support “a more effective method of admistrative contact.

Stembridge hopes to have a basic structure for the long-term policy creation method in the upcoming weeks.

“I don’t think that this change [in policy making] is one that’s going to be felt in the daily lives of anybody. This is about long term policy decisions, Stembridge said.

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