Policy BDFA: School Councils

This policy is designed to insure the consistent implementation throughout the Amherst, Pelham, and Amherst-Pelham Regional Public Schools of provisions of Massachusetts General Law 71:59C and 71:38Q1/2 which require the establishment of School Councils in each of the public schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Superintendent and the Principals shall be responsible for familiarizing themselves and ensuring full compliance with MGL 71:59C.

Under this policy, the Principal will have primary responsibility for the management of the school. The law emphasizes the role of the Principal in forming the School Council, for insuring "parity" among staff and parents, for seeking diversity in community representation, and for promoting the climate of participatory involvement and decision-making within each School Council. The school's educational goals will be determined by the principal, in consultation with the School Council.  The School Councils, by law, are to assist and make recommendations to the principal.

Decisions which are made at the school level must be aligned with the Three Year District Improvement Plan, with the District Annual Action Plan and with the district’s budget, policies, curriculum, and administrative regulations, and must be aligned with any long-range and short-range goals adopted by the School Committee.  In addition, decisions must comply with any state and federal laws and regulations and with any negotiated agreements of the school District.

The School Committee encourages schools to hold School Council elections prior to the end of each school year in June, or by the end of September at the latest.   School Councils are considered municipal agencies and their members are considered municipal employees for purposes of the Conflict of Interest law. (MGL 268A)

Each principal may define the size and composition of the council, subject to the approval of the Superintendent and School Committee of a representative process for selection.  The following conditions must be met:

  1. The Council shall include the principal, teachers, parents/guardians, other community members and, for the middle school and the high school, at least one student representative.  Parent, teacher, and student members are to be elected by their peers.

  2. The number of parent/guardian representatives must be equal to the number of teachers who serve on the Council plus the principal.

  3. Not more than 50% of the council shall be made up of members who are not parents/guardians, teachers, students, or staff at the school.

  4. The Council should be broadly representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the school building and community.  To ensure a diverse membership of the School Council, efforts will be made by the leaders of the peer groups running the elections for School Council to encourage individuals from commonly underrepresented groups to run for the elected positions.  Also, some of the other community members on the School Council will be members of these commonly underrepresented groups.

  5. The principal and another member elected by the council from its membership will co-chair the council.

Elected members of the School Councils will serve two-year terms, except for the student member of the School Council of the High School, who will serve a one-year term, and are eligible for re-election one time. The School Council terms should be staggered to ensure a blend of new and experienced leadership. In the event of a member resignation, the co-chairs may appoint a new member to fill the position until the next scheduled election. At that time, a member will be elected to complete the term of the member who resigned.

The school Principal will be responsible for convening the first meeting no later than forty days after the first day of school, at which meeting an individual will be selected to co-chair the School Council with the Principal.  The School Council will meet regularly during the school year. Meetings of the School Council are public meetings and are subject to the provisions of the Open Meeting Law. (MGL 39:23A to C)  Meetings must be posted at least 48 hours in advance with the Town Clerk’s office in the appropriate town(s), and minutes must be maintained as required.

Each council is encouraged to set its calendar of regular meetings for the year at its first meeting of the school year, and to post these meetings on the District website and/or their own school website in addition to the posting required by Massachusetts law. Where circumstances warrant, the council may choose to call additional meetings. The scope of the school council does not require, and therefore does not qualify for, executive session.

The role of the School Council is to meet regularly with the school Principal and to assist in:

  1. Adoption of educational goals for the school and student performance goals for the school which are consistent with state and district policies and standards.

  2. Identification of the educational needs of the students attending the school.

  3. Review of the school building budget

  4. Formulation of a school improvement plan that may be implemented only after review and approval by the Superintendent.

  5. The School Council of the High School will review student handbook each spring to consider changes in disciplinary policy to take effect the following school year.

The School Council may not expand the scope of its authority beyond that established in law or expressly granted by School Committee policy. The council will have no authority over matters that are subject to collective bargaining.

Good practice also suggests that a Council should not become involved as an ombudsman or a grievance committee in individual cases that involve students, parents, teachers, and other school staff.

The Superintendent or his/her designee will develop a list of topics to be addressed in each School Improvement Plan and a consistent written format for School Improvement Plans which will be used by all the School Councils in the Amherst, Pelham, and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Districts. (See policy BDFB)

Each School Council’s School Improvement Plan for advancing the educational goals of the school and improving student performance will be submitted annually to the Superintendent for approval.   Each School Improvement Plan will be presented to the appropriate School Committee for review in order to ensure consistency with the 3-year District Improvement Plan and the District Annual Action Plan.  The Superintendent, however, will have the final approval authority of all school Improvement Plans.  (See policy BDFB)

LEGAL REF:

MGL 30A:18, 30A:2030A:21, 30A:22, 30A:23, 69:11, 71:38Q , 71:38Q 1/271:59C, 150E, 268A
 

Region Voted to Approve: 2/28/12
Amherst Voted to Approve: 3/20/12
Pelham Voted to Approve: 5/3/12
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