The Board supports the provision of Alternative Programs within the Division as an educational choice for students and parents.
Alberta’s learning system respects the right and responsibility of parents to make decisions that best suit the needs of their children. By supporting programs of choice, the province strengthens the public school system and promotes the availability of diverse educational experiences for Alberta students. Legislation has encouraged school boards to work with parents, its community, and stakeholders to provide choices in educational programming that will meet the needs and interests of students and parents.
An Alternative Program is an education program that emphasizes a particular language, culture, religion or subject matter, or uses a particular teaching philosophy.
Alternative programs in the Division consist of faith-based programs, Hutterian Colony programs, Low German Speaking Mennonite programs, a sport program and Outreach-Online programs.
- Alternative Programs shall:
- Emphasize a particular language, culture, religion or subject matter, or use a particular teaching philosophy that is distinctly different from that emphasized in the regular program;
- Be established with Board approval of a detailed program proposal;
- Be closed with Board approval;
- Receive a Division budget allocation upon the recommendation of the Superintendent or designate and approval by the Board, where significant costs beyond those of regular school programs can be identified;
- Be allowed to charge a non-instructional fee;
- The Principal, Alternative Program Society, or other proponents shall submit to the Superintendent, or designate a proposal to establish an Alternative Program.
- The Board may offer an alternative program that operates within the geographic boundaries of another Board only if the other Board has been requested to offer the alternative program and has refused.
- The submission shall be made with sufficient time before the expected “startup” date to allow clarification, discussion, planning and approval.
- Feedback regarding the proposal shall be provided to the originators of the Alternative Program proposal.
- Once the proposal is complete, the Superintendent shall arrange for the originators to make a presentation of the proposal to the Board.
- The Board may accept or reject the proposal or may direct administration to bring a recommendation to the Board for further discussion and a decision to accept or reject the proposal.
- If the proposal is accepted by the Board, the proponents of the program, in conjunction with the Superintendent and/or designates, shall complete detailed preparations (timelines, transportation, facilities, student recruitment, staffing, budget, administrative services) and submit them for approval to the Superintendent or designate.
- Each Alternative Program proposal shall include the following elements:
- Background research
- Philosophy, objectives, and mission/vision statement
- Distinguishing feature(s) of the Alternative Program
- Operational and capital budgets
- Fee for non-instructional costs (if required)
- Staffing profiles desirable to meet the Alternative Program objectives
- Projected student population/grade levels and geographical location
- Transportation of students (if required) to and from the Alternative Program if other than through Policy 19 – Student Transportation
- Description of curriculum and instructional materials in addition to those approved by Alberta Education
- Description of start-up costs and sources of funding
- Where an Alternative Program is offered as an alternative school:
- The alternative school shall not qualify for the Small School Allocation;
- The alternative school shall receive all other budget allocations and services available to other schools except where funding is not provided through Alberta Education.
- Criteria for approval and continued support of an Alternative Program includes:
- All Division policies and procedures apply unless specifically exempted by the Board
- There is a supportable educational approach and there are sufficient numbers of students to support the program.
- The program is financially viable within the operational budget submitted as part of the program proposal.
- The program does not interfere with any student’s access to a regular program of instruction.
- The program follows the Program of Studies for Alberta.
- The program is integrated as part of the Division within existing schools.
- Transportation to Alternative Programs shall be granted according to Policy 12 – Student Transportation or as per an agreement in the program proposal.
- Teaching staff shall be employed by, evaluated by, and be responsible to the Superintendent, according to Division policies and Administrative Procedures.
- Support staff may be employed by either the Board or the society, depending upon role responsibilities.
- Alternative Program(s) shall be reviewed on an ongoing basis by the Superintendent to assess their viability. The Superintendent shall provide eighteen (18) months’ notice to the Principal, Alternative Program Society, or other body (as approved by the Board) if the Alternative Program is to be considered for termination in accordance with the program's master agreement if one is in effect. For programs not involving a society partner, eighteen (18) months' notice will be provided.
- The Principal, Alternative Program Society, or other body (as approved by the Board), shall provide notice to the Superintendent or designate that it no longer plans to offer or support the Alternative Program in accordance with the master agreement.
- The Board shall decide whether the alternative program will be terminated at a public meeting.
July 6, 2017