Resolutions from a school council, a cluster of councils or region of school councils would weigh heavily on administrative and board level decisions.
As the 2016-2017 academic year begins, Local School Councils are gearing up for Fall elections. Between the months of August and October, 65 councils will hold elections to choose new teacher and parent representatives. The elections month for each council is determined by the school council and included in its bylaws. The dates for site-based elections are set by the principal.
School Councils and Principals are the gateway to the community. School Councils shall provide advice and recommendations to the school principal, the board of education, and superintendent on any matter related to student achievement and school improvement.
The school house principal and school/governance council is a clearing house for community input. The board and administration understands the representation of the school council. As such, resolutions from a school council, a cluster of councils or region of school councils would weigh heavily on decisions.
Purpose of School Councils
Georgia’s A+ Education Reform Act of 2000, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-85–86, required that school councils be established at every public school. School councils are policy-level advisory bodies to the Principal, Superintendent, and Board of Education. They may advise and make recommendations on any matter related to school improvement and student achievement. The purpose of school councils is to “bring communities and schools closer together in a spirit of cooperation to solve difficult education problems, improve academic achievement, provide support for teachers and administrators, and bring parents into the school-based decision-making process.”
Who Serves on a School Council?
Law requires that parents be the majority of the members. It still, however, allows flexibility in the membership of a school council. At a minimum, a School Council is composed of seven members:
• The Principal
• Two certificated teachers elected by the teacher
• Four parents (or guardians) elected by the parents; two of the parents must be businesspersons
• Two businesspersons, selected according to the school council’s bylaws
The school council may, within its bylaws, increase the number of members as long as the parents remain the majority.
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of School Council Members?
All members of the School Council are accountable to the constituents they serve and must:
• Maintain a school-wide perspective on issues,
• Regularly participate in School Council meetings,
• Participate in information and training programs,
• Act as a link between the School Council and the community,
• Encourage the participation of parents and others within the school community, and
• Work to improve student achievement and performance.
The meeting minutes of the School Council shall be made available to the public, for inspection at the school office, and shall be provided to the School Council members, each of whom shall receive a copy of such minutes within 20 days following each School Council meeting. All school councils shall be subject to Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50, relating to the inspection of public records, in the same manner as local boards of education.
“The councils shall provide advice and recommendations to the school principal and, where appropriate, the Board of Education and Superintendent on any matter related to student achievement and school improvement, including, but not limited to, the following:”
• School board policies;
• School improvement plans;
• Curriculum and assessments;
• Report cards issued or audits of the school conducted by the Office of Student Achievement;
• Development of a school profile which shall contain data as identified by the council to describe the academic performance, academic progress, services, awards, interventions, environment, and other such data as the council deems appropriate;
• School budget priorities, including school capital improvement plans;
• School-community communication strategies;
• Methods of involving parents and the community;
• Extracurricular activities in the school;
• School-based and community services;
• Community use of school facilities;
• Student discipline and attendance;
• Reports from the school principal regarding progress toward the school’s student achievement goals, including progress within specific grade levels and subject areas and by school personnel; and
• The method and specifications for the delivery of early intervention services or other appropriate services for underachieving students.
How do School Councils Conduct Business?
• All meetings are open to the public.
• School councils must meet four or more times a year as stated in their bylaws.
• A quorum, which is a majority of the members, must be present at the meeting.
• The council may appoint committees, study groups, and task forces.
• Meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Act.
• Records are subject to the Open Records Act.
What is the Role of the Principal with School Councils?
The school principal shall:
• Perform all of the duties required by law and the bylaws of the council;
• Communicate all council requests for information and assistance to the superintendent and inform the council of responses or actions of the superintendent;
• Develop the school improvement plan and school operation plan and submit the plans to the school council; and
• Aid in the development of the agenda for each meeting of the council after taking into consideration suggestions of council members and the urgency of school matters.
• An item may be added to the agenda at the request of three or more council members.
What is the Role of the Board of Education with School Councils?
The Board of Education shall:
• The Board of Education shall respond to each recommendation of the school council within 60 calendar days after being notified in writing of the recommendation.
• Provide all information not specifically made confidential by law, including but not limited to, school site budget and expenditure information and class sizes by grade.
• Designate an employee of the school system to attend council meetings when requested.
• Receive and review the school council’s annual report.
• The central administration shall respond to requests for information from a school council.
• The members of the school council shall be afforded an opportunity to present information in support of the school council’s report or recommendation; and
Are School Council Members Required to Have Training?
The law requires each Board of Education to provide a training program to address the organization of school councils; their purpose and responsibilities; applicable laws, rules, regulations and meeting procedures; important state and local school system program requirements; and a model school council organization plan. The law also requires that additional training programs be offered to school council members annually to assist school council members in the performance of their duties. State Board rule 160-3-3-.04 allows professional learning funds to be used for school council training.