BDFA: SCHOOL COUNCILS POLICY

FILE: BDFA
 
This policy implements the provisions of Chapter 71 of the Acts of 1993, Section 53, which requires the establishment of site-based school councils (SBSC) in all of the public schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
 
The purpose of school councils are to:
  1. assist the principal in adopting educational goals for the schools
  2. assist principals in the identification of the educational needs of the students
  3. assist principals in the review of the annual school budget, and
  4. assist principals in the formulation of a school improvement plan.
The committee believes that parents, teachers, high school students and other members of the community working collaboratively to assist the Principal will enhance the education of all the children in Lexington.
 
SBSC play a leadership role in creating a climate in the schools in which faculty, parents, administrators, students, and other members of the community participants, working together, share responsibility for school improvement, student learning, social and emotional well-being of students, increased satisfaction among professional educators and greater commitment to, and involvement with, parents and the broader community.
 
SBSC foster collaboration at the local school level, and also have a responsibility to work with the system-wide District Improvement Plan and District Goals to provide a common direction for all the students in Lexington, regardless of which school they attend.
 
Principals should provide all SBSC members with an updated copy of the Lexington Mission/Vision Policy, District Goals, and School Committee Goals, to ensure that all participants are aware of current system-wide priorities.
 
Membership
Each school council will be composed of:
  1. School Principal and a parent shall serve as co-chairs.
  2. A number of teachers elected by the professional staff of the school.
  3. A number of parents elected from a process identified by the SBSC in consultation with the Principal.
  4. A number of non-parent community members recruited by the principal with informal assistance from the Lexington Town Meeting Members Association (TMMA).
  5. A number of support staff, including custodians, secretaries and aides.
  6. At the high school level, at least one student elected by the student council.
  7. The number of parents shall equal the number of teachers plus the Principal.
 
Elections
SBSC elections shall be held in May and terms shall run from June to June. At the meeting following the annual elections, SBSC members shall elect one parent representative to serve as co-chair with the principal.
 
The selection/election of parents, staff, students and other community members should produce a council that is broadly representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the school building and the community. As the outcome of elections cannot be controlled, every effort should be made by all participants to encourage a wide range of school community members to become involved with SBSCs.
 
SBSC meetings are subject to the Open Meeting Law. Every meeting is open to the public and people are encouraged to attend meetings whether they are elected as voting members or not. Attending meetings is an instructive way to learn more about the work of school council and may encourage people to later run for an elected position.
 
Meeting Procedures
  1. Meetings will be held outside of school hours.
  2. All meetings must be conducted according to the requirements of the Open Meeting Law.
  3. Agendas shall be prepared by the co-chairs and provided to the Lexington Town Clerk in order to meet the requirements of the Open Meeting Law. Members should submit items for inclusion on the agenda to either co-chair.
  4. Each agenda will be provided to the school council members prior to the meeting in a timely manner.
  5. The Superintendent, any member of the staff, any parent, any student, or any member of the council who wishes to have an item included on the agenda may request its inclusion to the Principal no later than three days prior to the meeting. Any item of interest may be placed on the council’s agenda, and the council will decide whether individual items will actually be discussed.
  6. All meetings will be conducted in accordance with the prepared agenda.
  7. Decisions should only be reached on agenda items; other issues may be brought up for discussion, but decisions should not be reached on them until they are properly posted on a future agenda to provide the public with notice.
  8. Minutes of each meeting should be formally approved at the subsequent meeting and properly submitted to the Town Clerk’s office so they can be archived and accessed by the public. In addition, informal minutes or updates should be made promptly available to the school community in order to keep the school community updated on the school council’s work.
  9. Official records for each school council meeting will also be kept at the school.
 
Operating Procedures
It is expected that school councils will meet monthly to monitor their current School Improvement Plan, remain informed about school issues, and develop working understanding of the strengths and challenges of the school so they are well-prepared to assist the principal in preparing the next School Improvement Plan.
 
It is expected that SBSC will operate by consensus. Lack of agreement will be viewed as a signal that the best option may not yet have been developed and put forth. If the council cannot reach an agreement by consensus, and a majority decision needs to be reached, the decision of the council will require a majority vote.
 
In the event that a council reaches a deadlock on some important issue or repeatedly fails to reach consensus on issues, any three (3) members may request that the Superintendent designate a mediator to help improve the council’s process. In the event that mediation is requested, the Superintendent may seek a mediator from among the members of another council. All members of a council are obligated to cooperate in good faith with any such mediation.
 
All agendas and minutes for any one school will be posted on that school’s website. The Superintendent shall receive agendas and minutes of all SBSC meetings. The Superintendent shall provide copies of these materials to members of the School Committee upon request.
 
School Improvement Plans / Educational Goals
The principals, in consultation with SBSC, shall adopt educational goals for the schools and shall formulate a school improvement plan to advance such goals. Each school’s educational goals must include the student performance standards adopted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and, consistent with any educational policies established for the district, shall assess the needs of the school in light of these goals. The school improvement plan shall be consistent with the systemwide goals, core values and mission statement.
 
The plan shall identify ways to:
  1. meet the diverse learning needs of children
  2. establish a welcoming school environment characterized by respect for all groups
  3. provide professional development for the school community (staff and families)
  4. allocate resources to enhance family engagement in the life of the school
  5.  promote safety
  6. support extra-curricular activities
  7. and such further subjects as the Principal, in consultation with the school council, shall consider appropriate.
Each school improvement plan shall be submitted to the School Committee for review and approval every year. If the school improvement plan is not reviewed by the School Committee within thirty days, the plan shall be deemed to have been approved.
 
Training
The School Committee will include in its annual budget a plan to train members of the SBSC. Training will be arranged by the School Committee, and the School Committee will solicit feedback from school council training participants to ensure that training provides a constructive and supportive environment.
 
Site-Based School Council (SBSC) Roundtable
The School Committee will assign one or two liaisons to a system-wide SBSC Roundtable. The Roundtable will be comprised of a representative from each school and will meet monthly from September – June. The School Committee liaisons and Roundtable participants will collaborate to promote training for new SBSC members and to provide professional learning for all SBSC members so they are well-informed about current District Goals and well prepared to assist principals at the school
level.

Lexington Public Schools, Lexington MA
Adopted by Lexington School Committee: July 2015