BDFA: School Councils

Purpose and Mandate

The Committee believes that school-based decision-making is key to high-quality, attainable, and sustained educational improvement. We also believe that the commitment to support school-based decisions is more effective when involving school representatives because they are directly affected by any action or decision and the resulting implementation.

Under this policy, the principal will have primary responsibility for the management of the school.  Decisions that are made at the school level must be aligned with the budget, policies, curriculum, and long- and short-range goals adopted by the Committee.

As enacted by the state legislature in the Education Reform Act of 1993, a School Council (hereafter referred to as “Council”) will be established in each school to advise the principal in specific areas of school operation.  The principal, except as specifically defined in the law, will have the responsibility for defining the composition of and forming the Council pursuant to a representative process approved by the Superintendent and Committee.

Councils are responsible for:

  1. Adoption of educational goals for the school that are consistent with local educational policy and statewide student performance standards.
  2. Identification of the educational needs of the students attending the school.
  3. Review of the annual school-building-based budget in conjunction with the principal.
  4. Formulation of a School Improvement Plan that will be implemented only after review and approval by the Superintendent. (The Superintendent will prepare and disseminate administrative guidelines addressing the drafting of School Improvement Plans.)

The High School Council additionally is responsible for reviewing the Student Handbook each spring to consider changes to disciplinary policies to take effect the following school year.

All Council recommendations must comply with state and federal laws and regulations, with any negotiated agreements of the district, and will not be made in regard to any matters that are subject to M.G.L. Ch. 150E, which regulates collective bargaining (with the exception of the school schedule as long as the Council acknowledges that the issue may be subject to collective bargaining). Councils may make non-binding recommendations to the Committee on issues that are of interest to the school and have district-wide implications. Councils, however, may not expand their authority beyond that established by the law or granted by Committee policy.

Conduct Of Business

The principal will, by law, serve as co-chair of the Council.  The second co-chair will be elected annually by Council members at the Council’s first meeting of the school year subsequent to the election of new Council members.  Councils should be broadly representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the school and school community. Councils are considered municipal agencies and their members are considered municipal employees for purposes of the Conflict of Interest Law. A parent who has children in more than one school at the same time may serve on only one Council. PTO officers and Committee members are encouraged not to serve as members of Councils. Elections will be conducted in a fair and open process with results announced publicly.

Councils will meet as frequently as necessary during the school year.  Meetings will be held outside of school hours.  Co-chairs will be responsible for preparing meeting agendas. At their first meeting of the school year, Councils will set their calendar of regular meetings for the year but may choose to call additional meetings.

Councils will use consensus as the primary method to resolve issues and formulate recommendations.  Votes by majority may be taken at the discretion of the principal and Robert’s Rules of Order will prevail if there are questions of procedure.

All Council meetings will conform to the Open Meeting Law, Chapter 30A, Section 18-25, which stipulates that all meetings be open to the public, posted at least 48 hours in advance, and that meeting agendas and minutes be produced and maintained as required.  The scope of the Council does not require, and therefore does not qualify for, executive session.

The Superintendent will receive agendas and minutes of all Council meetings and will provide copies of these materials to members of the Committee upon request.

The Committee recognizes the importance of each Council’s job and realizes that Council members must be given sufficient supportive information and materials to enable them to operate successfully; therefore, the Committee encourages principals to provide Council members with thorough information pertinent to their schools and any other materials the principal or Superintendent determines to be supportive of their efforts. 

Presentation of School Improvement Plans

Individual School Councils will present their School Improvement Plans to the school and general community in a public and posted meeting. The Committee will be notified of the dates of those presentations and may choose to attend as members of the public.  It is at those meetings that members of the public should expect to learn about and provide feedback on the plans.

Following the public meetings, School Councils will present their School Improvement Plans to the Superintendent at public and posted meetings. The Superintendent will determine the time and place for each meeting. The Superintendent will review and approve all School Improvement Plans annually, prior to July 1st.

The Superintendent will present a summary of the School Improvement Plans to the Committee at a separate Committee meeting that occurs prior to the start of a regularly scheduled meeting.  The meeting will be public and recorded.  That presentation will occur annually, prior to August 1st.

MSC first vote: 3/25/14
MSC second vote: 4/8/14