Saturday, January 21, 2012

What's a site council?

I got this question this afternoon at the Worcester Government 101 panel put together by the Worcester Free School. I try, as I get questions that seem like others might have them to post them here. And send those along! I'm always glad to field them.
When we refer back to the Ed Reform Act of 1993 in Massachusetts, we're usually referencing two things: the MCAS or the foundation formula. Both are a result (direct or otherwise) of that Act. There are a number of other things that happened them (School Committees stopped directly hiring most of the employees of the schools, for example): among them was the creation of site councils.
Because another aspect of the Act was to move an increased amount of control back to the school (from the district) level, the Act set out a group of people to assist in the leadership of the school. While the principal was given increased autonomy in budgeting, policy, and staffing,* the law set out an advisory council for the principal, to ensure that those with a vested interest in the school had a voice in running the school.
Each site council consists of parents (generally at least two), teachers (again, usually two), community members, and (at the secondary level) a student. They are public meetings, so anyone can attend.
Thus the site council serves as an advisory council to the principal on matters of budgeting--they are required to review the school budget--and policy. In Worcester, site council members commonly are called on by the district when it comes to hiring a new principal for the school.
Site councils meet monthly and the meetings are statutorily required to be public. The dates and times are posted on both the city website and the Worcester Public Schools website. Any member of the public may attend any site council meeting, and if you're interested in what's going on with a school, I'd enthusiastically recommend you do so!

*in theory if not in practice, always.

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