School Councils at Maine School Administrative District 49
Questions & Answers on School Councils
What is a school council?
A school council is a representative; school building-based committee composed of the principal, parents, teachers, community members and, at the secondary level, students, required to be established by each school.
What are the main areas of responsibility for school councils?
There are four major areas of responsibility for councils. School councils are to assist principals in:
- Adopting educational goals for the school that are consistent with local educational policies and statewide student performance standards
- Identifying the educational needs of students attending the school
- Reviewing the annual school building budget
- Formulating a school improvement plan
For Grades 9-12, the council shall review the student handbook each spring to consider changes in disciplinary policy to take effect and recommended to the Superintendent and the approval of the School Board for the following school year.
What is the council's role in the school budget?
The school council shall assist the Principal in the review of the annual school budget. This language refers to the school building budget, not to the district budget. "Review" means that the council and the principal read through documents that describe the budget in order to understand the implications for items in the school improvement plan that will be developed by the council. In many communities, the school budget is prepared by mid-year in order to allow for negotiation with other municipal agencies, i.e., finance committee, city council, town meeting. A council's review of the budget, therefore, enables it to predict better which improvement projects that require funding could be implemented in the next school year under a budget.
Providing for a public comment period at every council meeting. During this period, council members or visiting members of the school and community can bring their issues to the attention of the council. Please note: the ground rules for such sessions should rule out individual grievances (e.g., a parent's complaint about a class placement) and personnel issues requiring confidentiality.
Establishing subcommittees with extended memberships. An extended subcommittee typically consists of one or two members of the council and other volunteers from the school and community who join the group as resource people or interested parties to work on a specific issue for a finite period of time. Extended committee membership provides an opportunity for involvement for parents, teachers, and community members who do not have the time or interest to serve on a permanent standing committee.