Policy BDFA: School Councils

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

Under this policy, the Principal will have primary responsibility forthe management of the school. The law emphasizes the role of thePrincipal in forming the School Council, for insuring "parity" amongstaff and parents, for seeking diversity in community representation,and for promoting the climate of participatory involvement anddecision-making within each School Council. The school's educationalgoals will be determined by the principal, in consultation with theSchool Council.  The School Councils, by law, are to assist and makerecommendations to the principal.

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

The School Committee encourages schools to hold School Councilelections prior to the end of each school year in June, or by the end ofSeptember at the latest.   School Councils are consideredmunicipal agencies and their members are considered municipal employeesfor 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 arepresentative process for selection.  The following conditions must bemet:

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 onetime. The School Council terms should be staggered to ensure a blend ofnew and experienced leadership. In the event of a member resignation,the co-chairs may appoint a new member to fill the position until thenext scheduled election. At that time, a member will be elected tocomplete the term of the member who resigned.

    The school Principal will be responsible for convening the firstmeeting no later than forty days after the first day of school, at whichmeeting an individual will be selected to co-chair the School Councilwith the Principal.  The School Council will meet regularly during theschool year. Meetings of the School Council are public meetings and aresubject 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 TownClerk’s office in the appropriate town(s), and minutes must bemaintained as required.

    Each council is encouraged to set its calendar of regular meetingsfor the year at its first meeting of the school year, and to post thesemeetings on the District website and/or their own school website inaddition to the posting required by Massachusetts law. Wherecircumstances warrant, the council may choose to call additionalmeetings. The scope of the school council does not require, andtherefore does not qualify for, executive session.

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

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

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

  • Review of the school building budget

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

  • 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 beyondthat established in law or expressly granted by School Committee policy.The council will have no authority over matters that are subject tocollective bargaining.

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

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

    Each School Council’s School Improvement Plan for advancing theeducational goals of the school and improving student performance willbe submitted annually to the Superintendent for approval.   Each SchoolImprovement Plan will be presented to the appropriate School Committeefor review in order to ensure consistency with the 3-year DistrictImprovement Plan and the District Annual Action Plan.  TheSuperintendent, however, will have the final approval authority of allschool 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