We believe our democracy depends on our schools. This belief is held so strongly by our community that we have designed our school to run democratically on every level, and have made democratic practice and conflict resolution the centerpiece of our educational model. Below, you will find an explanation of how our democratic school is governed, and the different bodies exercising power in our school.
All School Meeting (ASM)
ASM is arguably the most important decision making body at our school, and is the place of origination for the majority of the laws that govern the daily life of our students, staff, and volunteers. Students and Staff make up the the ASM, Parents and Volunteers are allowed to be present but not vote. It is our school's commitment to place real power in the hands of youth, who's votes in All School Meeting are equal in weight to the votes staff.
The opportunity to make real decisions, solve real problems, and make real mistakes together is essential to the growth and learning of our student body. We believe that where you give young people the chance to rise to responsibility, you are giving them the chance to grow. You do not get this kind of learning in a civics class.
All School Meetings are held weekly and are able to create laws governing the daily life of the school. Everything from the use of rooms and materials, to how to keep the school clean, and the election of the student Justice Board goes through ASM. Any student or staff member may propose a school law and each may cast one vote. ASM uses a style of decision making in which an initial vote is followed by time for minority voices and concerns and then a final, binding majority vote is cast.
While ASM consists of students and staff, and has jurisdiction over all aspects of the daily life of the school, the Staff are also their own decision making body that meet weekly, and separately from ASM. The Staff, who use a "fingers of five" consensus decision making process, have the power to enact any necessary laws and policies related to emotional and physical safety of the school. One example of a staff imposed safety law is our "Helmet Law," anyone who is on wheels, be it bike or scooter, must wear a helmet. In addition to regulating safety, the staff also have the power to enact administrative policies and rules, and it is their responsibility to manage the business of the school.
The staff do more than just make decisions. The staff offer classes, lead activities, advise students one on one, resolve conflict, run meetings, and are generally responsible of the programming of the school.
The Council is our Board of Directors made up of members who are elected by the Circle. They are legally responsible for the oversight of the school's financial and employment practices. The Council also plays an important role in staff review, fundraising, and outreach. Internally, the council helps ensure that our practices and policies are in line with our bylaws, mission, and core principals. The Council makes decisions by consensus.
The Circle is our largest decision making body. It is made up of all students, parents, staff, volunteers, and council members. Each member of the school community gets one vote on proposals such as: amending the bylaws, budget recommendations, and council nominations. At regularly held Circle meetings the details of proposals are discussed, the proposals are then put on a ballot which is distributed to every Circle member in the community. The Circle makes decisions by majority vote.