When Choice Schools Associates (CSA) partners with a school, we work with the Academy’s Board of Directors to implement the goals of the board and the guiding links of the charter. We provide all of the resources to our schools to ensure a successful, efficient, and meaningful operation. Similar to a traditional public school’s superintendent’s office, we provide and execute all support services.
Our School Management Services
As we endeavor to provide you with the most effective school management services possible, we offer the full range and scope of functions for school operations. From marketing to finance to teacher development and everything in between, our staff of highly skilled, talented, and resourceful individuals are available to assist with any issues that our schools may face.
CSA does not offer limited services for one simple reason: ownership of results. We believe that student achievement is the sum of all components of a school and we must teach and serve the whole child in a seamless system. The school budget should be an instructional spending plan, in which every dollar spent contributes to student achievement. Employees should not be independent of financial or instructional accountability so they too can own the results of the school as a whole, rather than in segmented parts. All choices must be for all children. The school is an entity, not pieces of a puzzle.
CSA takes the following steps to ensure the efficient and effective governance of its partner schools.
- Ensure board meetings are compliant with the Open Meetings Act, the academy’s bylaws, and the charter authorizer’s expectations.
- Assist in agenda and agenda packet preparation at the request of the Board. CSA’s standard is to provide all Board members with agendas and complete packets, including monthly financial reports, five to seven days before their Board meeting.
- Bring governance issues to the Board in a timely manner.
- Work with academy legal counsel to ensure that disciplinary hearings are held without bias and in compliance with the federal and state laws and regulations.
- Partner with the National Charter Schools Institute to assist academy Boards desiring the creation of a current Board Policy Manual.
- Be readily accessible and responsive to the Board of Directors. CSA strives to have an area Superintendent at each Board meeting to answer questions and provide direction. Area Superintendents have sound working knowledge of board policy and best practices in the field of education. Additionally, central office staff endeavors to reply to all emails and responses for information within twenty-four business hours creating an open and constant flow of information between the Academy Board and CSA.
- Assist the Board in strategic planning and development of the Academy’s vision and goals for the future.
- Assist the Board in facility improvement planning and application for funding.
CSA strives to create a positive, learning-focused culture at each of our partner schools. Our goals are as follows:
- Work with instructional staff to utilize our Character Choices program to teach and support positive character traits in our students. Character Choices is aligned to the Common Core and is integrated throughout the curriculum making it part of each student’s day. Character Choices also has conflict resolution, peace education, and etiquette components, creating an all-encompassing program that helps children develop and gain skills for the future.
- Develop a collaborative school culture throughout each building that reflects dignity, meaning, and sense of community for the school family.
- Maintain a safe school environment by implementing the Student Code of Conduct in a fair and consistent manner. CSA also encourages schools to use our Positive Discipline Support Plan, which gives a framework for providing positive and tiered support for children rather than focusing on suspensions for non-violent behaviors.
- Assist schools in the development of a law enforcement endorsed safe school plan that incorporates violence prevention and safety measures for the entire school community.
- Install and monitor academy use of the CrisisGo crisis alert system enabling in-the-moment crisis or safety alerts to the school crisis team, school staff, and the central office crisis team.
Legal and Compliance
CSA takes the following steps to ensure that all of our partner schools remain in compliance with state and federal educational laws.
- Assure compliance with authorizer expectations.
- Assure compliance with local, state, federal, constitutional, statutory, and judicial matters on the Board’s behalf.
- Assure compliance with the state Budget Transparency regulations.
- Assure compliance emergency drill regulations and public postings.
- Assure compliance with all state and federal grant programs, and oversee that only eligible students receive services from appropriate certified staff.
- Assure compliance with childcare licensing regulations for all preschool and latchkey services.
- Maintain academy and student records are in compliance with state and federal law.
- Assure compliance with Charter Contract and assist in the reauthorization process.
- Assist academy personnel in all aspects of authorizer, Department of Education, and local school district compliance reporting.
Human Resources Responsibilities
CSA takes our commitment to human resources very seriously. Our human resources responsibilities are outlined below.
- Provide highly qualified and passionate school leaders, teachers, and support staff to each academy. Over 60% of our instructional aides have teaching certificates, and 100% of our full-time teachers have Michigan teaching certificates.
- Create, train, and develop I*We School Selection Teams to assist leaders in selecting candidates that fit the culture and vision of the school. I*We team members go through an intense screening and training process to ensure that they fully understand the hiring process and legal ramifications of hiring decisions.
- Meet and exceed state requirements for the evaluation of administrators and teachers. CSA uses TeachPoint, an online system that ensures all employees are observed and formally evaluated according to the guidelines set forth by the Michigan Department of Education.
- Provide a rigorous evaluation and observation-training program for our school leaders with the goal of delivering high-quality, timely, and meaningful feedback.
- Prepare and facilitate all personnel related audits from the State of Michigan or the charter authorizer. CSA has had 100% clean audits with zero findings for many, many years and has been recognized as a leader in establishing an organized, hassle-free, and auditor-friendly system that meets requirements of both the law and the authorizer.
- Continuously monitor pay and benefit trends to ensure that employees are paid with both internal and external equity.
- Develop esprit de corps with employees through anniversary recognition programs, teacher appreciation week, Power of One recognition programs, and our Choice Connect internal communication tool.
- Consult with school leaders on employee management issues and ensure that employees are treated fairly and with respect.
- Support the employees’ needs for growth and development so that the employee has the opportunity to grow his or her career.
CSA’s commitment to education leads us to strive for top-of-the-line instructional programs. The following are steps we take at all of our partner schools.
- Ensure implementation of the educational program and curriculum defined in the academy’s Charter Contract.
- Analyze curriculum for Common Core alignment at all grade levels and make recommendations for continuous improvement.
- Support the school leader in developing and implementing academic enhancement programs, including our comprehensive curriculum analysis, test score improvement plan, and intense professional development programming on working with children of poverty.
- Conduct the student academic assessments outlined in the Charter Contract.
- Communicate student academic progress to parents and community stakeholders.
- Provide oversight for special education programs and assure that all students with IEPs receive the appropriate services to help them advance while adhering to the federal IDEA regulations and Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education.
- Create and develop early childhood programs (tuition and state funded) that support the mission and community of each academy.
- Create, develop, obtain state funding, and provide oversight for GSRP (Great Start Readiness Program) state funded tuition-free preschools when approved by the Academy Board. In less than 10 years, CSA has developed programs for over 360 preschool children, providing needed services for the community and a gateway for children into CSA-managed Academies.
CSA takes the following steps to ensure that all partner schools are managed in financially responsible and successful ways.
- Manage the Academy’s financial system to guarantee compliance with the Michigan Public School Accounting Manual. Academy Board members are given virtual access to academy accounting systems so they can have updated financial information at their fingertips.
- Implement sound financial procedures and controls to ensure all assets are safeguarded and in financial compliance with appropriate government regulations and policies.
- Prepare academy budget with the assistance of the school leader and Finance Committee. Budgets are prepared by CSA within our financial system, but all stakeholders are given an opportunity to provide feedback on programming and needed instructional spending.
- Provide monthly financial reports for the Board’s review five to seven days prior to the board meeting.
- Process and submit all required financial reports on behalf of the academy.
- Lead the annual financial audit by working with the Board’s approved audit firm to ensure all documentation is provided for a clean and successful audit.
- Process payroll for employees assigned to the academy. Unlike many management companies, CSA does not charge an additional fee to process payroll.
- Manage employee benefit programs to remain consistent with the evolving needs of our employees and to remain compliant with the Affordable Care Act.
- Prepare state and federal grants for the academy in alignment with the School Improvement Plan.
- Work with the Michigan Department of Education and Office of Field Services on interim grant related audits.
- Assist with securing the financing of new construction, building acquisition, and remodeling projects.
- Seek additional funding from private sources and foundations.
CSA undergoes the following processes to ensure that school operations at all of our partner schools run as efficiently as possible.
- Assist school leaders and facility maintenance personnel in maintaining building and grounds in a safe, attractive, and efficient manner.
- Assure compliance with facility health and safety regulations (e.g. AHERA) and direct the remediation or repair of facility problems.
- Assist school leaders in the management of transportation/bussing programs.
- Provide guidance and oversight of food service and childcare programs.
- Assist all academies to apply and receive E-Rate technology discounts for eligible services (e.g. Internet, phone, infrastructure). In 2015-16, CSA helped their academies save over $380,000.
- Assist academies in creating educational technology readiness plans to assure preparedness for state and local assessments.
- Assure that all academies meet federal Child Internet Protection Act rules and that safeguards are in place to protect children from unwanted website exposure.
- Provide staff supplemental training and oversight for all student databases and online services at the academies.
- Obtain child nutrition program grants that allow schools to participate in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program and the Child and Adult Care Program.
- Coordinate the state regulated process in selecting food service vendors for each school, and provide oversight to all aspects of food service management.
- Oversee and guide school’s compliance with the state pupil accounting regulations and process.
CSA strives to stay in constant open communication with students, parents, teachers, and community members. Our steps toward maintaining this goal are outlined below.
- Carry out an aggressive public relations campaign via social media and word of mouth marketing with the goal of retaining existing families and attracting new ones.
- Develop and carry out a recruitment (marketing) plan aligned with the Board’s enrollment growth goals and funded in the approved Academy budget.
- Empower and support school leaders to be excellent relationship builders, thus creating a culture where everyone involved buys into the recruitment plan for consistent growth.
- Work with school leadership and a web developer to build and maintain a high quality website that’s appealing to both current and prospective families.
- Create and maintain school’s brand perception through purposeful messaging, creative visuals, and a cohesive strategy that allows the recruitment plan to come to life. *Design and creative strategy services are in addition to our contract, but we work as team to bring it all together.
- Install and manage the streamlined, automated, and user-friendly process for enrolling and re-enrolling students using the InfoSnap system.
- Provide expertise, structure, and overall best practices for embracing a culture of frequent communication, especially via social media channels and email.
- Assist school leaders with installing proper signage and carrying out beautification planning and implementation, both inside and outside the building, to ensure a pleasing appearance from a parent perspective.
- Provide school leaders with market research and competitor analysis on an ongoing basis.
- Assist school leaders with creative strategy and idea generation.
- Assist and support school leaders to carry out successful high- and low-profile community events.
The management agreement will clearly stipulate the services that CSA will provide and the outcomes for which CSA expects to be held accountable. We also welcome and request an annual performance review so that the board may assess CSA’s accomplishments. At CSA, we are “all in” with the Board of Directors to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations, to provide comprehensive services for children, to fulfill the charter contract with each school’s authorizer, and to continuously improve student achievement.