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School Plan Iteration #1.2 - Adopted by Design Team, Approved by Board
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Milestone Democratic School

School Plan Iteration #1.2

Adopted by Consensus of the Design Team, July 16 2020

Read the Spanish language version of the School Plan / Lea el Plan Escolar en español



Preface: The Story of This School Design / School Designer Bios and Acknowledgements

  1. Worldview & Values
  2. Services, Care, Climate, & Culture
  3. Governance
  4. Justice
  5. Learning Program - Experiences
  6. Learning Program - Goals
  7. Learning Program - Assessment and Evaluation
  8. Facilities
  9. Food
  10. Staffing Pattern
  11. Calendar & Schedules
  12. Budget

Post-script: Forward!


The Story of our School Design

This school is designed by youth, people of color, LGBTQ folx, builders, dreamers, and doers: a team of designers who care about learners and learning. This school is designed to serve anyone who wants choice and connection in their learning - for those who believe in democracy, deep learning about this world, and creating a better world as we learn.

Milestone Democratic School’s story starts in December of 2017, when the nonprofit Community | Learning | Design received initial authorization from the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Educational Opportunity to begin developing a new public charter secondary school. Over the summer of 2018, C|L|D launched a community organizing campaign to build partnerships with youth-service organizations and to recruit school designers. A team of dedicated youth volunteers then held regular design sessions after school and on weekends throughout the fall of 2018, all through 2019, and now continuing into 2020, following a curriculum for Participatory School Design authored by the directors of C|L|D.

After training in Restorative Practices, Formal Consensus, and Design, the team crafted a “Possibilities Statement” by consensus. This statement has served as the guide for all our school design work that followed:

“Milestone Democratic School can be a place where learning is engaging,

where everyone has a voice and all voices are heard, and

where the most important step is the next one.”

Out of this Possibilities Statement, using storytelling and action research in our communities as critical ideation tools, a set of Design Criteria emerged. Adopted by consensus of the Design Team, they state:

“Milestone Democratic School should:

From this broad set of goals, the team ideated, evaluated, and developed a series of design elements. We published “Iteration #1” of this School Plan in December of 2018, which described our vision for Milestone at that moment.

The document that follows is “Iteration #1.1” of the School Plan, also adopted by consensus of the Design Team. It represents the best of the ideas we have collected and generated to answer the question, “How do we create a school that will bring the possibility of Milestone to life, while meeting each of the criteria goals?”

We understand that this plan does not include all the necessary details to open our school. And, furthermore, that once our school is open, it will need to be refined and revised and allowed to evolve and grow. So design will continue, for as long as Milestone Democratic School exists or can be dreamed-up. Join us as we move Milestone’s plan forward!

School Designer Bios and Acknowledgements

The School Design Team

Malik McDonald

I joined this project because of feedback from other students who wanted a change in schools. I hope to make a big change.

Gersely Rios

I was born and raised in the city of Maracaibo in Venezuela. I am a designer, leader and passionate high schooler that has had a lot of perspectives on education, and now I have the chance to give back to my Latinx community through my work.

Devika Pal

I was born and brought up in Madison by immigrant parents from India. I am a musician, newspaper writer and dedicated high school student. I joined because I wanted to change the view of education and give students a voice.

Alex Ralyn

I am a part of the facilities and architecture group to better our school environment and see our school flourish!

Jurie Mayo

I have been a community organizer for four years. I joined to contribute a queer, black, and gender nonbinary voice.

Stefano Oviedo

I’m very open minded, and a proud Mexican. I want to see a change in the education of students and to help them to get the next step in their lives.

Trendell Dobbs

I love sports, I also enjoy helping other people, and my black culture. I really wanted to be a part in this project to take on the black youth's point of view.

Roland Kahl

I am a student in Madison, WI. I have been a design team member since late September, 2019 and will be attending when it opens next year.

Mariah Justice

I am an emerging artist, writer, musician, softball-player, and history enthusiast, born and raised in Madison, WI. My deep-rooted interest in history stems from my desire to learn from our collective past in order to create a better future.

Sean Anderson

I love teaching democracy and design, and I have had the privilege to do that work in Wisconsin, Vermont, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Mexico.


Milestone occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, ceded only under force. As a democratic school, we hope to embody a solidarity that recognizes sovereignty of communities, and acknowledge the contradiction of building and learning on occupied land.

Our work to date would not have been possible without:

Our families (birth and chosen), who have supported and encouraged us;

Our communities, who have given their time, energy, and insights -- thank you to all who have participated in Listening Sessions to inform our design, and hosted us for in-person and virtual school visits; and

Especially Hedi Rudd and the Center for Resilient Cities (now merged with Community GroundWorks as Rooted), who gave us our first home at Badger Rock Neighborhood Center -- a welcoming place to initiate this work.

I. Worldview & Values

Our Worldview / Cosmovisión:

At Milestone Democratic School, we understand our world and our place in it based on a series of knowings, which are always contingent and emerging. In our present moment, we have consensus on the following:

We further know that each of these parts of our worldview intersect and overlap in complex and sometimes unpredictable ways. We know that trauma is prevalent and often rooted in oppressive systems, structures, and actions based in these identities, and that our work together can lead to healing only through deep and sustained inquiry into ourselves, our communities, and the structures that shape and frame us.

Our Values:

II. Services, Care, Climate, & Culture

Possibility Statement:

Services, Care, Climate and Culture at Milestone can give students support and the resources they need to develop emotionally, socially, and academically, by creating a fruitful environment that cultivates a safe and inclusive learning space for students to thrive.


Milestone will support and aid youth of color by actively showing representation through staff members, peers, and mentors to effectively give students an inclusive environment where they feel supported and represented. Through our space and staff, we will represent a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds, we will give students not only a sense of belonging, but multiple life perspectives. By providing resources and opportunities for tangible skill building, that can be carried throughout a student's life. As well as by educating students on their history and culture background, and providing a better understanding of the injustices in today's society. We also will provide emotional and mental health support, to create a bright future as well as present.

Milestone will support and aid students with disabilities, by creating a safe, accessible and inclusive space through our diverse staff, students and in our facility. We will strive to never alienate our students, but rather give them the freedom to express the resources and support they need to thrive in our school, as well as through life. We will build  “care webs” and invite welcoming mentors with disabilities to give workshops that can provide representation and support to our students, and normalize the stigma around disability.

Milestone will support and aid students in the LGBTQ+ community by creating a support system throughout our staff and students to lift up LGBTQ+ students. We will not place pressure on our students to identify a specific way, or at all, but instead will encourage their independent growth and allow them to change at their own pace. Our instructors will offer mental and emotional support and guidance for those struggling to come to accept themselves, including the privacy and communication skills they need to come out to their families and friends on their own accord.

Milestone will support youth with trauma by creating a safe environment for students, and having adults they trust and feel comfortable with to confide in (who have been trained extensively in dealing with trauma). We will provide emotional skill building to help each individual student understand and heal from their own personal trauma. To further support the students, we recognize that trauma manifests through exhaustion, anger, depression and more. Furthermore, we will support them by having instructors that take each student’s trauma into consideration, with or without knowing what trauma they have or have not been through, to properly instruct and support our students.

Milestone will support youth living in poverty, by making sure every one of their basic needs are met to allow them to thrive in our school. Through providing services such as laundry, showers, meals, storage, as well as means of transportation to and from school. To create an uplifting and supportive environment by educating and reshaping the way or staff and students view poverty and its stereotypes. To create a bright and prosperous future for the students by teaching and exposing them to tangible skill building that they can carry with them throughout life and build a career off of.

Milestone will support immigrant youth by creating an environment where they feel represented, respected and included. We will ensure they gain everything they can from their learning experience, by having all learning materials in every language necessary to support our students. We will connect them with their own history and culture as well as immersing other students in their culture and history as well. We will give them access to immigration lawyers and other resources, as well as tangible skill building that can be carried throughout life. Our instructors will guide them through their own emotional and mental struggles that come with such cultural changes. For their families, Milestone will ensure that everything is translated by professionals and or fluent interpreters whenever possible, we will also provide live in-person interpreters for important events whenever possible. Milestone will additionally provide at least one designated faculty member for families to reach out to.

At Milestone, all students will be supported and given the tools they need to thrive. We will ensure that they have opportunities to access extra-curricular and co-curricular experiences. We will set curricular outlets and activities through the faculty, however, students will be given  the freedom they need to create their desired courses including...

III. Governance

Possibility Statement:

Governance at Milestone can be fair by following our values and beliefs; a place where students, parents, teachers and staff members contribute, and where they can feel safe sharing their ideas and experiences.

Design Criteria:

Governance at Milestone should…


Flowchart showing the governance structure between Milestone Democratic School, their authorizer the University of Wisconsin System and school community.

*Diagram of Milestone Democratic School’s governance process.

The governance system at Milestone Democratic Schools is split into five major entities of control.  The five governing bodies are the Design Team, the Governance Board, School Meeting, Community Engagement, and Educators Cooperative.  These five bodies of governance will help make Milestone a school that represents the current student body, their families and communities.

The Design Team’s two main purposes will be to revise and edit the School Plan and make proposals and present them to the meetings of Milestone. The Design Team will include one observer who will be from the previous Design Team, chosen by the previous design team using the Alternative Vote method and will make other decisions using Formal Consensus. The Design Team will consist of ten to twelve current students, asked randomly if they would like to participate. We will repeat this process until we have a minimum of ten students in the Design Team.  This body will also contain one guardian of a current student as well as up to three community members. Up to three staff members will be voted onto the Design Team by the School Meeting. This Team will be replaced at the end of every school year. All decisions made will be overseen by the Governance Board to make sure they are legal, in compliance with Milestone’s contracts and aligned with Milestone’s Values.

The Governance Board’s primary duties are to raise funds for Milestone; oversee the other Milestone governing bodies, make sure decisions are legal and in compliance with Milestones’ contract and values; and raise the profile of Milestone. The Governance Board will consist of one president, vice president, secretary, and one treasurer, as well as up to three other members. The Board should be made up of 3 older students (16+), 2 staff members, and 2 community stakeholders. Board elections will take place in the first semester at a Community Engagement session. The Governance Board will be overseen by D.P.I. and Milestone’s authorizers at UW. Community Engagement can “call out” the decisions made by the Board if necessary. Community Engagement can call for a revote or they could call for Community Engagement to make the vote if they receive eighty percent majority.

School Meetings will be held every week with everyone enrolled at or getting paid by Milestone. School Meetings make week-to-week decisions regarding Milestone’s operations and receive reports from each Advisory. The meetings will use a consensus process and The Alternative Vote for democratic decision-making processes. Decisions made at a School Meeting may take effect as early as the day after the School Meeting or as soon as reasonably possible. All proposals must be planned ahead of the meeting. The Governance Board will oversee the decisions made during School Meetings to make sure they are legal and aligned with the contracts and views of Milestone.

Community Engagement will include Milestone Members, staff, parents, students, and other community stakeholders. In these meetings, the community can learn relevant information about Milestone and participate in the democratic process to match the needs of the community. They will use the Alternative Vote and eighty percent majority using a modified Formal Consensus process. The Governance Board will once again review the decisions made to make sure they are in compliance with Milestone’s contracts and aligned with Milestone’s values.

The Educators Cooperative will include all people receiving a paycheck from Milestone. Educators Cooperative’s main purpose will be to put into action the School Plan and give reports to other governing bodies. They will decide on the democratic decision-making process they use. The Governance Board will oversee the decisions they make to make sure they are legal, in compliance with Milestone’s contracts, and aligned with Milestone’s values.

Budgeting and purchasing at Milestone will not be in full control of any of the bodies. The original budget proposal will be made by the Design Team. Then, the Governance Board will review, edit and approve the proposal. Community Engagement will be able to propose their own ideas to the Design Team as well.

Staffing at Milestone will be split into four categories. Staffing Patterns at Milestone will be revised, edited and placed into the school plan every year, by the Design Team and approved by the Governance Board. The hiring process starts with the Governance Board posting a Request For Proposals for an Educators’ Cooperative to deliver the Learning Program described in the School Plan. Once an Educators’ Cooperative submits a proposal that is accepted by the Governance Board, each individual member of the Co-op that will fill a role at Milestone must go through the interview process. First, the Governance Board reviews applicants for legal qualifications. Second, the Design Team will hold the first interview, followed by the School Meeting (or a committee formed from it) holding the second interview. Lastly, the Governance Board will make the final decision.

All governing bodies, other than the Governance Board, will perform teacher evaluations every quarter and when called for by Community Engagement. Self-evaluation will also take place. Recommendations for continued employment  or non-continuation of employment as a staff member of Milestone will be made by Community Engagement to the Educators’ Cooperative. 

Policymaking, guideline and rule agreements will be placed into action by whoever the rule affects as well as justice procedures.

Milestone community stakeholders apply to the Governance Board for membership. Membership is an option for community members with no affiliation with Milestone. Membership entails the right to vote at Community Engagement.

The Learning Program at Milestone will include three categories: Goals, Experiences, and Assessments. All decisions will be set by the Design Team in the School Plan and reviewed by the Governance Board.

The school yearly calendar will be made by the Design Team and reviewed by the Governance Board. When adjusting the yearly calendar the Community Engagement will make the final decision. Daily schedule adjustments will be proposed to the School Meeting by the Design Team.

Decisions regarding the maintenance of Milestones facilities will be made by the Design Team.  

Proposed events will be reviewed, edited, approved or denied by Community Engagement.

Transportation services, purchases, or contracts will be the responsibility of the Design Team to propose and then be reviewed by the Governance Board.  

The responsibility of all other decisions not specified will be the responsibility of the Governance Board.

IV. Justice

Possibility Statement

JUSTICE at Milestone can be equitable, inclusive, and rooted in care, where everyone feels safe while being held accountable, and all voices are heard.

Design Criteria

Justice at Milestone should...


At Milestone, justice is framed by the rights we respect for each other, and the responsibilities we all share. Members of our school community will be held accountable to prevent conflict when possible, resolve conflict when it occurs, interrupt harm as it happens, and help to restore and heal from harm after it has been done. The following rights and responsibilities are not exclusive, but they are guaranteed:

Students have the right to:

Students are responsible for:

  • Prevent conflict by
  • Talking to any adult to express emotions
  • Sharing their concerns for their well-being with their families and/or any other trusted adult.

  • Resolve conflict by
  • Having a safe space to take a break or time alone to reflect.
  • Expressing their emotions in a safe way.
  • Having a healthy sit-down with the people involved and a mediator.

  • Interrupt harm by
  • Self-defense
  • Talking from their point of view.
  • Verbally intervene to de-escalate a situation.
  • Anonymity whenever it is possible.

  • Restore from harm by
  • Having time to heal
  • Asking for a restorative justice circle or another mediation process.

  • Preventing conflict by
  • Thinking wisely before acting
  • Sharing their concerns for their well-being with a trusted adult in the school.


  • Resolving conflict by
  • Holding themselves accountable and reflect on their actions
  • Entering each space without negative preconceived notions of others


  • Interrupting harm by
  • Not escalating situation
  • Inform any of the staff members as soon as possible

  • Restoring from harm by
  • If the student caused harm, they are responsible for making it right with the people involved.
  • Come up with a plan to establish boundaries where all people involved feel comfortable to move on and their mental health is protected

Families have the right to:

Families are responsible for:

  • Prevent conflict by
  • Protecting and advocating on behalf of their child's well being.

  • Resolve conflict by
  • Defending their students, without causing physical or psychological harm to other students or staff.
  • Being actively informed about any conflict their student is involved in, in a way that doesn’t violate other students’ rights.

  • Interrupt harm by
  • Being informed about actions taken by staff in a way that doesn’t violate other students’ rights.
  • Bringing concerns to the Educators’ Cooperative, the Governance Board, and the Authorizer’s office whenever they feel it is needed.

  • Restore from harm by
  • Being actively informed of all details of the conflict or harm, as well as a plan to restore relationships between students and staff, in a way that doesn’t violate other students' rights.
  • Participating in any mediation process, so long as all participants are comfortable with families’ presence.
  • Preventing conflict by
  • Being transparent with their students and staff regarding their concerns about conflict before it takes place.

  • Resolving conflict by
  • Not escalating situations their students are involved in.

  • Interrupting harm by
  • Trusting advisors versed in nonviolent crisis intervention to handle situations appropriately.

  • Restoring from harm by
  • Having one on one with their student, to better understand their perspective.
  • Engaging in and trusting the process used by the staff and students.

Staff has the right to:

Staff is responsible for:

  • Prevent conflict by
  • Co-designing guidelines for accountability in partnership with students
  • Working with students to de-escalate before conflict erupts

  • Resolve conflict by
  • Separating students when needed
  • Involve families or community support systems when needed

  • Interrupt harm by
  • Physically separating individuals when needed, but only with Non-Violent Crisis Intervention strategies


  • Restore from harm by
  • Hold individuals accountable through community processes like mediation
  • Remove individuals who cannot be safe from the school community temporarily or permanently, but only after exhausting all other options, getting consensus from the Educators’ Co-op, and getting input from School Meeting  
  • Preventing conflict by
  • Making sure they are trained on how to provide safe learning spaces
  • Proactively checking in with students
  • Being observant about what’s happening in our school
  • Using trauma-informed, brain-based, social-emotional learning with all students

  • Resolving conflict by
  • Using de-escalation strategies as a first step
  • Provide space for students to calm down and de-escalate
  • Facilitating the use of Restorative Circles or other mediation tools

  • Interrupting harm by
  • Using de-escalation strategies
  • Using Non-Violent Crisis Intervention strategies

  • Restoring from harm by
  • Facilitating Restorative Circles
  • Allow people involved time and space to recover
  • Centering survivors and their needs first
  • Facilitating mediation

Community Stakeholders have the right to:

Community Stakeholders are responsible for:

  • Be aware of what is happening in the school, without violating any student, staff, or family’s rights
  • Respecting student, staff, and family privacy
  • Being involved in a respectful and kind way that does not cause further harm

V. Learning Program - Experiences

Possibility Statement

Learning Experiences at Milestone can expose students to critical thinking, and social and emotional skill-building, give students a broad and complete view of the world, be based in relationships with the students, and be personalized for each student.

Design Criteria

Learning Experiences at Milestone should:


With gratitude for inspiration: Clark Street Community School (Middleton, WI), Escuela Verde (Milwaukee, WI), Avalon School (Saint Paul, MN), Expeditionary Learning, Big Picture Learning (and especially The Met school, Providence, RI), Eagle Rock School (Estes Park, CO), Valley New School (Appleton, WI), and Sudbury Valley School (Sudbury, MA)

Milestone Democratic School provides a curriculum framework where students are empowered to build their own learning experiences based on their individual strengths, talents, and interests in order to define their VOICE and their CONTRIBUTION to a better world.

Why Empowerment?

When students are able to enact their right to learn in the way that works best for them, they do their best learning. Beyond that, empowerment is a process that allows the student to become more confident in controlling their life and claiming their rights and voice. If we want students to be an active part in their own destiny, if we want students to become more involved with their community, if we want students to think beyond self and to consider the “other” in a way that raises everyone up, if we want them to create the better world they want, then we must first give them opportunities to experience authentic empowerment.

MDS is designed to do just that….. The increased opportunity to make decisions that matter, to apply democratic principles of engagement, to co-govern self and community, and to be the navigators of one’s own destiny is at the very heart of this school experience.  

Core Principles of Empowerment

Students are empowered to make decisions about their learning through co-designing with their advisors a Graduate Profile; a Personal Learning Plan (curriculum); the supporting Learning Experiences (instruction); and a field experience, internship and/or service project.  Students are additionally empowered to make decisions about their learning through participation on the Design Team.

Students are empowered to apply democratic principles of citizen participation, equality, political tolerance, accountability, transparency, economic freedom, control of abuse of power, human rights, and rule of law through participation in school governance, policy development, forums, debates, and community involvement.

Students are empowered to take charge of their lives through learning experiences that teach fundamental life skills such as money management, time management, resource management, housing management, mental health management, professional persona, social media management, personal information management.

Students are empowered to step into the world and broaden their worldview through field and travel experiences, internships, service projects, and culture and language studies.

Students are empowered to take the next steps in their college and career paths by demonstrating competencies and proficiencies in core academic standards and industry standards.

Students are empowered to be the best version of themselves through regular reflective practices, seminars in  Social and Emotional Competencies, and participation in expressive experiences (art, music, drama, fashion, writing, athletics).

Advisory System: The “Hub” of Learning


Advisories are the central “Hub” of relationships and learning at Milestone. Each Advisory is made up of one Advisor who works exclusively with a small group (no more than 22) of mixed-age learners. The main objective of the Advisory is to provide a trusting community that supports academic, social, and emotional learning. Students remain connected to their Advisory for the duration of their time at Milestone Democratic School.

Each Advisory is responsible for democratically designing its own structures, schedules, agreements, and practices, including the schedules for when the Advisory meets. The Advisory is the time and place for students and Advisors to build community and culture, understand identity, and practice deliberation and democracy. It is also the time and place for reflection and check-in circle. The Advisory becomes a collective, and the forum for developing, reviewing, and revising Personal Learning Plans and more specific learning experiences and having one-on-one/ small group coaching meetings between advisors and students.


Advisors play a critical role in the Advisory. Advisors are the main point of contact for their students and their families. They are mentors, confidants, guides, and cheerleaders for their students. Advisors may teach lessons or units within their Advisory, they may offer small group projects or learning experiences that allow their students to meet Learning Goals, and they may host guests from the community -- all as decided by the Advisory community.

Students work with their Advisor one on one throughout their school career to develop, revise, assess their Graduate Profiles, Personal Learning Plans, and Learning Experiences. Advisors help guide democratic processes within their Advisory and help to sustain a positive and safe space for learning to take place.

Profile of a Graduate of Milestone Democratic School

Each learner begins their experience at Milestone by designing their personal Graduate Profile. This document, co-created by the student, their advisor, and their family, represents sets of attributes, skills, and knowledge that will prepare them for the life, work, and/or study beyond high school that they envision for themselves. This Graduate Profile is developed in the first year of entry into MDS, and is assessed and adjusted with each school year as the student becomes increasingly aware of their strengths, interests, talents. The Graduate Profile serves as a framework for the student’s Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) and helps to assess the student’s progress towards their desired outcome.

Personalized Learning at Milestone

Each student, working closely with their Advisor and with input and guidance from their family, writes a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) each season they are at Milestone. Personal Learning Plans become the curriculum that a student will follow and their Advisor will support throughout a learner’s experience -- they are the foundational document that guides, assesses, and curates learning. A PLP starts with a student’s learning goals and interests, and also allows the student to achieve them in a way that works best for them.

Personal Learning Plans include:

Learning Experiences at Milestone

At the center of every learning experience lies an opportunity for students to:

With the support of the advisor, students are encouraged to create challenging and dynamic Learning Experiences that support their PLP while exploring learning strategies that work best for each individual student.

Student-Directed Project-Based Learning

Students have the freedom to design their own independent or group Project-Based Learning (PBL) experiences around their interests, with the guidance of an Advisor. No student is required to do projects if they can meet all their learning goals through other experiences (classes, internships, for example). Before a PBL experience can begin, students work together with Advisors to create a detailed proposal, or “Statement of Intent,” describing how their learning experience will go, including:

In concluding a PBL experience, students come together with their Advisor to discuss what they learned and gained, and are given the option to share with their peers.

Courses, Seminars, and/or Forums Offered at Milestone

Classes at Milestone take a variety of forms, whether based around required Learning Goals or electives. No student is required to take classes if they can meet all their learning goals through other experiences (projects, internships, for example). Classes may be designed by staff, or in a partnership between staff members and students, who create the class together, deciding what learning goals will be available through the class, what teaching strategies will be used, and what evidence of learning will be produced. Classes must be open and accessible to all learners at Milestone who want to participate, with no prerequisites or restrictions. Once classes are designed, they must be proposed and adopted at School Meeting the season before they are offered.

All first-year students are encouraged to take a class called “Milestone 101” which guides students through the experience of personalized learning.

Courses Pursued at Partner Sites and/or Online

Milestone constantly builds partnerships and agreements with other sites of learning in our communities, and students may initiate new partnerships as well. Off-site and on-line courses can be part of any student’s Personal Learning Plan.

Independent Studies

With the support of the advisor, students are encouraged to create challenging and dynamic assignments, inquiry and research work, and units of study that support their PLP while exploring learning strategies that work best for each individual student.

Community Learning Experiences

“Leaving to Learn” is a core experience at Milestone, as we know the deepest learning happens in real-life, hands-on practice in the community with mentors. Students take the lead, aided by advisors and Milestone’s Community Learning Coordinator, in connecting with learning experiences outside of the four walls of Milestone, with the goal of nourishing their interests and helping further their goals and advancement in their learning plans. Students can have individual Community Learning (“CL”) experiences, or come together with their peers who share their interests to engage in experiences that support their educational needs and wants. Before entering a, CL students and advisors work together to create a detailed plan that includes how they will take advantage of the CL to best benefit their learning plans. In the conclusion of a CL, students meet with advisors to share and reflect on what they learned and gained, and how they grew from this learning experience.

Community Learning Experiences may include:

Democratic Self-Governance

Students learn hands-on democracy at Milestone by doing democracy in real, meaningful ways, and can use these experiences to meet their learning goals:

Learning with Dignity and Respect

At Milestone Democratic School, each learner is valued as an individual and as a member of our learning community. Empowerment is treated both as an expression of a person’s rights to guide their own life and learning, and also as a way to ensure that learning is engaging, everyone has a voice and all voices are heard, and the most important step is the next one.

VI. Learning Program - Goals

Possibility Statement

Our Learning Goals can guarantee the students a plan for their future life after school, empower students to use their rights and responsibilities in their communities, and make students conscious about their resources and how to use them wisely.

Design Criteria

The Learning Goals of Milestone Democratic School should:


Students at Milestone will work towards mastery of specific competencies and standards every day. These will be aligned with the following eight Credit Areas, which describe what a Milestone graduate should be and do:

Global Literacy

Students will broaden their knowledge and understanding of how the world works, pushing them to think critically about the political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of the world we live in. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to stand up for their rights and the rights of others as global citizens, and make the necessary changes to create the better world we want.

I AM Empowered to step into the world and broaden MY worldview.

Community and Household Consciousness

Students will recognize and be aware of their many contexts, as they learn household management necessities and their impact on their communities. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to take charge of their lives and lead in their communities.

I AM Empowered to step into my communities and make an IMPACT.


Students will understand and honor their roots, identities, and strengths. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to make decisions about their learning and life that will benefit them the best.

I AM Empowered to be the BEST version of MYSELF.

Arts and Expression

Students will be able to express their feelings, spirit, character, and opinions in a respectful, factual and passionate way. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to understand the different ways to make and understand art and language, their subjectivity, and purpose.

I AM Empowered to share WHO I AM and WHAT I THINK with the world.

Democratic Empowerment

Students will develop critical thinking skills and collaborative creation skills. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to engage in citizen participation, activism, and leadership; as well be aware of social, economical and political issues in our communities and the change that they can create.

I AM Empowered to Apply Democratic Principles.

Scholastic Development

Students will understand the essential academic skills, while working on proficiency in DPI and State, and Federal requirements of math, science, reading, writing, geography and history. Plus the preparation for higher education steps. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to pursue any academic future they desire.

I AM Empowered to Make Decisions About MY Learning.

Health and Wellness

Students will have the ability to access, understand, appraise, apply and advocate for health  and wellness information, and services. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to live a healthy life during and after Milestone.

I AM Empowered to be the HEALTHIEST version of MYSELF.

Lifelong Skills

Students will learn skills that will help them for their next steps in life, their adulthood and the achievement of their goals and dreams. The successful completion of this Learning Goal will empower students to understand learning as a lifelong process and cultivate their future and legacy.

I AM Empowered to take the next steps in MY college and career paths.

VII. Learning Program - Assessment and Evaluation

Possibility Statement

Assessment and Evaluation at Milestone can be based on one-to-one communication, provide meaningful feedback for everybody involved, and reflect students’ personal goals.

Design Criteria

Assessment and Evaluation at Milestone should:


Learning at Milestone will be assessed and evaluated only using the Learning Goals. Assessment and evaluation will be based on artifacts of student experiences and students’ ability to explain and defend their learning. Each learning experience will result in a different kind of artifact -- some classes may culminate in exams, projects may end with a finished product, or an internship may result in a written reflection. All kinds of artifacts can be considered for assessment and evaluation.

Students will self-assess regularly to determine how they are doing in meeting the objectives in their Personal Learning Plans. Advisors will encourage a variety of reflection strategies for self-assessment.

Students and Advisors will meet one-on-one at least weekly to assess student learning and progress toward the objectives in their Plans.

As students complete experiences and create artifacts that they believe demonstrate mastery of competencies, credits, and/or Learning Goals, they will document their experiences and artifacts in a portfolio. Advisors will evaluate portfolio entries and give feedback.

At the end of each trimester, there will be school-wide Exhibitions. Exhibitions will be planned at School Meeting, but will generally involve students delivering public presentations of their learning to an audience of Milestone members. At Exhibitions, students will explain their learning and defend the competencies and credits they want to earn based on their work. Competencies and credits will be judged and awarded by a panel that includes the student’s advisor, any required Content-Area Experts, and at least one community stakeholder.

VIII. Facilities

Possibility Statement

The facilities of Milestone can provide great accessibility, provide comforting and calming spaces, and be inclusive, integrated environments.

Design Criteria

Facilities at Milestone should...


Our school facilities will begin with essential spaces:

Other intended spaces include a kitchen/laundry, "makerspace" arts and crafting space, and a commons area. These will be developed by the Milestone Design Team as we go through our first year.

IX. Food

Possibility Statement

Food at Milestone can be culturally sustaining, fresh fresh, and fulfilling.

Design Criteria

Food at Milestone should...


How food is treated at Milestone

Food at Milestone is treated as a human right, something that sustains our cultures, as a learning tool, and as nourishment.

When, how, and where food is available and served

Full, hot meals are available at the beginning of the morning and during mid-day. We aspire to provide take-home meals available for all students as they leave at the end of the day whenever possible. There are also snacks available around the school throughout the day. Food is served in the common areas whenever possible, and if needed it can be served in Advisory rooms.

Participatory menu planning

There is a Food Committee of School Meeting, which is made up of volunteer students and staff. The Food Committee proposes three different types of menus for each week following our Food Design criteria. The School Meeting each week votes on which menu to have for the following week. A modified version of Formal Consensus will be used in School Meeting to arrive at a menu that everyone can agree with.

How our food is sourced

There will be a school garden where students can eat the food that they grow. The garden is a source of fresh food the students would have for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Students can make healthy snacks using the food from the garden. Caterers who prepare the meals for Milestone will be hired to use the food from the garden whenever possible. Partnerships with other community organizations like gardens and urban farms will also be used to get fresh local food whenever possible.

How our food is cooked and prepared

Our food will be cooked by caterers who have the right license and are affordable within our budget. They must be willing enough to use the ingredients we provide (from our garden), and to make food from the menu approved at School Meeting. They also should be cooperative with student interns to help with food preparation.

How our food areas are maintained

Students and Staff maintain all food service and eating areas at Milestone. There are no full-time cleaning staff at our school, so School Meeting will determine a system and schedule for food clean-up.

X. Staffing Pattern

Possibility Statement

Staffing at Milestone can create the equitable, personalized, inclusive, and welcoming school culture that students need to thrive; can model the responsible, democratic agency that students are asked to learn; and can meet all the needs and requirements of our School Plan, state and federal laws, and our authorizer.

Design Criteria

Staffing at Milestone should:


In order to live out our democratic values and commitments, the Governance Board of Milestone Democratic School Incorporated will not act as a direct employer of any staff working at the school. Instead, the Board will contract for these services with an explicitly democratic staffing entity, such as an Educators’ Cooperative (“EC”) and/or a Teacher Professional Practice (“TPP”). The agency or entity which provides staffing for Milestone Democratic School must provide competent and responsible individuals and teams well-equipped to deliver the following services to the students, families, and Governance Board:

In order to arrive at a contractual agreement with an entity capable of providing this staffing, the following procedure and timetable will be used:

XI. Calendar & Schedules

Possibility Statement

The calendar and schedules at Milestone Democratic school can be flexible, healthy, and inclusive for all family and students’ needs.


Milestone Democratic School calendar showing August 2020 through August 2021. Link to full calendar available after the image.View full-size calendar here 


School Day

Non-school Day

Weekend Day

Milestone Democratic School Weekly Schedule

Total hours of instruction must be greater than 30 hours within one week.

Milestone Democratic School weekly schedule showing Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. It includes advisory session and student work/learning time.

Milestone Democratic School weekly schedule showing Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. It includes advisory session and student work/learning time.

View full-size schedule

XII. Budget

Possibility Statement

The budget can ensure Milestone is able to pay essentials on time, is able to provide for all students needs, and is able to prepare us for the unexpected.


SY 20-21 (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021)



Budget total



64 students x $8911.00

$ 570,304.00

DPI grant

$ 185,200.00

$ -

Title I

$ 64,000.00

Title II

$ 7,000.00

Title III

$ 2,000.00

Title IV

$ 10,000.00


$ 9,940.00


$ 848,444.00


Educators' Coop / TPP

Contract amount - 3 advisors, 1 support staff, subcontractors (including special education support), salaries, benefits, unemployment, workers comp, substitutes, extended contracts curriculum development, guest teachers

$ (347,200.00)

Property Services

Building Maintenance

$ (10,000.00)

Non-Technology Repairs & Maintenance

$ (10,000.00)

Site Rental

$ (73,600.00)

Cleaning & Environmental Services

$ (7,000.00)


Gas, Electricity, Water (NOT Included above in rent)

$ (20,400.00)

Pupil Travel - To/From School

Bussing $4*64 students*180 days

$ (46,080.00)

Pupil Travel - Field Trips

64 students * 2 trips * $50

$ (6,400.00)

Staff Travel

4 staff*2 trips*$50

$ (400.00)


Advertising, Postage, Printing, Internet

$ (10,000.00)

Technology & Software Services

ImBlaze ($3000)

Mastery Transcript ($2500),

SIS-JMC ($6000),

LMS ($500),

Comm software ($300 for + $2000 for TalkingPoints)

$ (14,300.00)

Intergovernmental Payments for Services

Payment to UW for Authorizer Fees

$ (18,000.00)

Professional Development

Contracts for Professional Development services:

- Membership and PD with DCSC ($750)

- Big Picture Learning affiliation ($6750)

- Misc other PD opportunities ($1000)

$ (8,500.00)


Educational supplies, art, gym, etc: set aside a budget for each Advisor and for School Meeting

$ (15,000.00)

Instructional Media

$ (6,000.00)

Non-Capital Equipment

desks, water fountains, etc

$ (5,000.00)

Textbooks & Workbooks

$500 x 64 students

$ (32,000.00)

Non-Capital Technology

Technology Supplies, Non-Capital Technology Hardware, Non-Capital Software

$ (20,000.00)

Capital Objects

Generally items over $5000 each. 2 vans

$ (44,000.00)

District Liability Insurance

$ (20,400.00)

District Property Insurance

$ (9,150.00)

District Student Insurance

$ (6,400.00)

Other Miscellaneous

COVID-19 sanitizing

$ (2,934.00)

School Visits

Minimum planned cause COVID-19

$ (12,000.00)

Food Service

$7*(64 students+4 staff)*180 school days

$ (85,680.00)

Fire and security alarm monitoring

$ (1,600.00)


$ (1,100.00)

CESA 1 SpEd director

$ (15,300.00)


$ (848,444.00)

Post-script: Forward!

This School Plan is a living document. As the Design Team grows (let us know if you want to join!) and the planning process for Milestone continues, we will continue to practice democracy in our design work to ensure that this school serves young people and their communities in the best way possible.

Please reach out to us to talk more about this work!

We’d love input, advice, words of encouragement, words of warning, or anything else you want to share.

‘Til next time,

The School Design Team of Milestone Democratic School