The Importance of School Councils

albert head shot

It is my position that School Councils are established in Georgia to "bring communities and schools closer together in a spirit of cooperation to: solve difficult education problems, improve academic achievement, provide support for teachers and administrators, and bring parents and community stakeholders into the school-based decision-making process.

School councils provide advice, recommendations, and assistance to principals and local boards of education. The Georgia Law details the composition of the council, its responsibilities, and procedures for conducting business.

It is also my position that the majority of school councils in Area 1 schools are not representative of the community it serves and not operating in a comprehensive and effective manner.

Albert McRae III

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL COUNCIL

By Albert McRae III

Click Here for pdf version w/ data pages

Coverpic

THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL COUNCIL
By Albert McRae III
Click Here for pdf version w/ data pages

GOALS OF THE PRESENTATION
  • RAISE AWARENESS TO THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL COUNCIL AS AN A ESTABLISHMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNANCE AND CONTROL.
  • RAISE AWARENESS TO THE ORIGINAL INTENT OF THE LAW TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND RESPONSIBILITY.
  • TO BEGIN SHAPING IDEAS TO STRENGTHEN SCHOOL COUNCILS EFFECTIVENESS AND INDEPENTANT SUSTAINABILITY.
­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________________________________________________________________

CONTENTS OF THIS PRESENTATION

  • HISTORY OF SCHOOL GOVERNANCE COUNCILS IN GEORGIA
             -          First school governance council enacted in 1946
             -          Governor Barnes’ 2000 proposal for school reform
             -          A+ Education Reform Act of 2000
             -          The 2004 General Assembly in HB 1190
             -          Georgia Senate Bill 193 (Georgia Association of Educators, 2004)
             -          The 2007 General Assembly Amendment

  • ATTRIBUTES OF A STRONG SCHOOL COUNCIL
  • IDEAS TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL SCHOOL COUNCILS.
  • DOCUMENTS OF DATA AND REFERANCE

             -          Cobb County School District (CCSD) Organizational Chart
             -          CCSD Legislative Priorities
             -          CCSD Executive Budget Summary
             -          CCSD Area 1 High School performance data profile
             -          CCSD Website Profile of School Uniform, School Councils & PTA


HISTORY OF GEORGIA SCHOOL GOVERNANCE COUNCIL

The first Georgia Law establishing a local school governance council was in
February 1, 1946. 

The law stated the following:

-  County board appoint three trustees to each school
-  All trustees serve without compensation.
-  The trustees shall be advisory in nature.
-  The Trustees make recommendations to the county board.
-  Such recommendations shall be merely advisory.

The law stayed in effect 55 yrs, until the A+ Education Reform Act of 2000 was passed.

Click Here for full article:  Georgia House Bill 1187

Due to the following national report on education in America:

-  49% of Georgia students entering high school in 1995 graduated in Spring 1999
-  SAT state average: 967 (49th in nation)
-  ACT state average: 20.2 (41st in nation)

Governor Barnes submitted a sweeping proposal to reform education in the legislative session of 2000. 

Governor Barnes Proposal

-          Phase out High School Graduation Test
-          Replace with End of Course Assessment Test in Core Subject.
-          Add Criterion reference Test Grade 1 8
-          State no-long pay for PSAT.
-          Stop Tenure Laws
-          State Equalization Grants
-          Class Size Reduction k-3rd (11-1)
-          Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)
-          Parent School Choice
-          Elected School Board at each school.
Opposition Proposal

-          More testing may encourage more dishonesty in the classroom.
-          Extend Tenure law from 4 yrs. to 5 yrs.
-          Equalization Grants puts tight budgets a risk.
-          RESA: Local school system to be certified to provide services.
-          School Improvement Teams

In his proposal, Governor Barnes outlined his view of local school council role in the community.

Gov. Barnes School Council Proposal

-          School Council at each school. (Based at half the schools in the state.)
-          Elected by the area the represent.
-          Seven members: 2 Business Persons, 2 Teachers, 2 parents, and the principal.
-          Able to set policy on Staffing, Budgeting, and Privatizing School         Administration.
-          Meet Once a Month
-          Meetings and Minutes open to the public.
Opposition Proposal

-          School Improvement Teams at each school.
-          Appointed by the local principal.
-          Advisory Only, no power to override school board.
-          Activities: Not Specified
-          Members: Not Specified
-          Meetings: Not Specified
-          Bylaws: Not Specified

Quotes:
Barnes knows the idea isn't popular among existing school boards. In fact, he talked about it during his Feb. 3 State of the State address.

"Some school boards are grumbling, too," Barnes said. "You know why? Because school councils will give parents, principals and teachers more control of their schools. Some school boards don't like the threat of real local control." 

Click Here for full article: Savannahnow.com / Savannah Morning News
Jennifer Rose Marino, Posted: Sunday, February 06, 2000 

State and Federal Legislation House (Bill 1187)

In 2000 the legislature enacted House Bill 1187, known as the A+ Education Reform Act, which mandated comprehensive educational reform for the state. Major components of this legislation included the following:

-          Establishing maximum class sizes by grade level
-          Lowering the age of compulsory school attendance from seven to six,
-          Eliminating fair dismissal (tenure) for teachers
-          Established the Office of Education Accountability
-          mandating CRCTs for students in grades one to eight.
-          Half of the school to create a school council to advise the principal and the local board on any matter, including curriculum, budget, principal selection, and the performance of school personnel.

HOUSE BILL 1187, A SCHOOL COUNCIL IS

The establishment of a local school council is intended to bring the community and school closer together in a spirit of cooperation to:

  • solve difficult education problems
  • improve academic achievement
  • provide support for teachers and administrators
  • bring parents into the school-based decision-making process.

The school council shall advise and make recommendations to the principal, Cobb County Board of Education, and local school superintendent on matters relating to school improvement and student achievement. 

The Council provides advice on the following areas:

-          School board policies
-          School improvement plans;
-          Curriculum and assessments;
-          Report cards issued
-          Develop school performance data profile.
-          School budget priorities
-          Methods of involving parents & community.
-          Extracurricular activities in the school.
-          School-based and community services.
-          Community use of school facilities.
-          Student discipline and attendance.
-          Progress Reports from the principal.
-     PEarly student intervention services
At a minimum, School Council must consist of seven (7) members:
-           Two (4) parents/guardians.
-           Three (2) certificated teachers.
-           The School Principal. 


The 2004 General Assembly in HB 1190
Provided flexibility in membership, chairmanship, meetings, elections and trainings for school councils.  

Georgia Senate Bill 193 (Georgia Association of Educators, 2004)
Restored the job protections that teachers enjoyed under the Fair Dismissal Act of 1975.

The 2007 General Assembly
changed the composition of school councils, requiring that a majority of members be parents (or guardians) and that at least 2 parents be business persons.

School Council Meeting Requirements:

-            Meetings shall be open to the public.
-            Must meet at least four (4) times annually.
-            Subject to Open Records Act.
-            Minutes shall be open to public inspection.
-            Minutes shall include the names of members present.
-            Minutes shall include a record of all votes.

Provisions of the Law
The local board of education shall provide a training program to assist schools in forming a school council and assist school council members in the performance of their duties.  Such training program shall:

  • Address the organization of councils, their purpose, and responsibilities, applicable laws, rules, regulations and meeting procedures, important state and local school system program requirements.
  • Provide a model school council organization plan.
  • Offer additional training programs to school council members annually.

Click Here for More Histiory of Georgia Education Reform

__________________________________________________________________

ATTRIBUTES OF A STRONG SCHOOL COUNCIL.

A strong school council should have a robust election process that is inclusive of the community as well as the parents of the school.

A strong school council should have a strong document storage process.

A strong school council should have a robust relationship with parents, businesses, and community stakeholders.

A strong school council should have a sustainability plan independent of staff implementation.

Opinion of Albert McRae III 12-07-2015

_________________________________________________________________

WHERE WE ARE NOW - OPPORTUNITIES

  • Review of CCSD websites shows limited school council web presence
      (Approximately 10%).

  • Implementation is dependent on school principal – This is a risk of a “single point of failure”.
  • In need of financial priority from CCSD to support school council training and strategic planning.
_________________________________________________________________

IDEAS TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL SCHOOL COUNCILS.
  • Every High School Cluster, should have three trustees, appointed by the area’s Board Member, House Representative and Senator.
  • The principal and trustees shall oversee the school council activities and election process.  Election process shall be completed by the last day of school each year.
  • The school trustees shall be honorary members of the school councils in the cluster and role shall be advisory in nature.

Opinion of Albert McRae III 12-07-2015

High School Feeder Pattern Examples: 

Pebblebrook High School
Lindley 7th & 8th Grade Academy
Lindley 6th Grade Academy
Bryant Elementary
Riverside Elementary
Riverside Primary
Harmony Leland Elementary

Clay Elementary

South Cobb High School
Garrett Middle School
Floyd Middle School
Mableton Elementary
Sanders Elementary
Russell Elementary
Norton Park Elementary
Austell Elementary
Birney Elementary


The power of School Councils:

Chicago’s Far South Side say they’re fed up with the their kids’ failing school 

Parent Trigger Law in USA States

 

 

Comments   

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