School Council Support Guide

Our Parental Involvement Program

Welcome to our School Council Support Guide. This guide is designed to provide information about expectations, procedures, and roles within the School Council. 

To your left, you will find helpful and accessible Tip Sheets, as well as Templates for the School Council Constitution, Media Releases, and Agendas. 

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board values the participation of parents as partners in education and provides a variety of opportunities to encourage parents to become involved in our schools. Together, these avenues create a robust parental involvement program in our School Board.

For many parents, regular and open communication with their child’s teacher satisfies their desire for information and involvement in school life. This communication is augmented by school newsletters and other communications sent home from the school.

For some parents, participation in the local School Council of their children’s school provides a greater level of involvement. A parent chairs the local School Council and the Principal acts as a resource.  Please refer to Board Policy B-6.1, School Councils, for essential information. For a School Council to be effective, it must have the Principal’s support and guidance. The Principal must make it a priority to empower others and to create conditions in which everyone works together to attain common goals.

Parents, who are members of school councils, and who wish to have greater involvement in their children’s education, may attend the Regional School Council meetings. Here, School Council members discuss matters that affect all of the schools in their superintendency and share best practices across schools. Regional School Councils are formed of a parent representative from each School Council. All parents are welcome to attend. Regional School Councils are chaired by a parent with the Superintendent of Student Achievement acting as a resource. Please refer to Board Policy B-6.2, School Council Associations, for essential information. The Superintendent must make it a priority to empower others and to create conditions in which everyone works together to attain common goals.

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board provides further opportunities for involvement of interested parents at a Board-wide level. Parents may serve on committees that advise the Board on communication strategies, plan actions that support School Councils, and plan the annual Parent and School Council Conference. Parents are also invited by Board policy to participate on committees that are established to examine accommodations, review school boundaries, and provide input on other matters, including strategic planning.

Parents or community members with the highest level of interest and commitment to education may choose to run in a municipal election for the role of Trustee and become a member of the governing body of the School Board.

The overriding purpose of active participation of parents and community members on local School Councils, Regional School Councils, other Board-wide committees and the governing body is to improve student achievement and to enhance the accountability of the education system. Community outreach is one of the main pillars of the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.

This guide serves as one way that the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board supports School Councils. We continue to look for ways to assist our Councils. For example, we:

• provide School Council professional development and training

• support the meetings of Regional Councils at the superintendency level

• share system information with School Council Chairpersons

• organize an annual district-wide meeting of Chairpersons, and

• organize a yearly Parent and School Council Conference.

Our school district is committed to maintaining open communication with parents, and local and Regional School Councils. To support this communication, the Board communicates with Council Chairpersons through its FirstClass e-mail system. All Chairpersons have access to an e-mail account at the school and remotely through their home computer. Other sources of information and communication with School Councils include the:

• Director’s Annual Report, produced each school year

• Report Card to the Community, widely distributed through area newspapers

• Keeping in Touch: A School Council Newsletter

• Board website - www.kprschools.ca - containing a wealth of relevant information, including reports and policies of the Board.

We trust that this guide will support School Councils with their work in our schools. If you have suggestions about future additions to this guide, or ways to support School Councils, please let us know.

 

Table of Contents

Expectations of School Councils

The School Council’s Advisory Role and the Principal

Liability Insurance for School Councils

Communicating Effectively

What the Research Tells Us

Reaching Out to Key Players

The School Principal

The Superintendents of Student Achievement

The Director of Education

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

The Ministry of Education

Constitutions

Decision Making

Budget and Finances

Fundraising

Committee Structure

Membership Roles and Responsibilities

Supporting Student Achievement

Supporting Character Education

 

Expectations of School Council

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board expects School Councils to:

• place the interests of all students first

• promote positive attitudes towards the school, the Board and public education

• provide advice to the Principal

• represent the interests of the entire school community

• work with parents and other partners in education to share responsibility for student success

• encourage a broad spectrum of parent and community involvement in the school and educational system

• promote effective relationships among home, school and community

• co-operate with parents, students, staff members and others in the community

• assist parents and community members to share their views on school success

• plan actions and activities that have a positive impact on student learning

• support character education and act in a way that reflects our character attributes

• act in a manner that reflects the Board’s Code of Conduct.

 

The School Council’s Advisory Role and the Principal

The Principal receives advice from the School Council as part of the decision-making process, as outlined in Board Policy B-6.1. If a Principal does not accept, agree or act upon the advice received, the Principal must provide the School Council with the reasons for the decision.

 

Liability Insurance for School Councils

School Councils act in an advisory capacity and as a resource to the Principal and, when appropriate, to the Board. This contribution is recognized by, and covered within, the Board’s liability insurance, which extends coverage to School Council members while they are working on behalf of the Board, on Board-authorized and approved activities.  In the case of school activities, the activity would require the approval of the Principal.

 

Communicating Effectively

Communication is key to a successful council. Parents need to see, hear and read about the School Council before they will take part. It is a good idea for School Councils to develop a communications plan to guide their actions. It is important to consider who needs to know what information at the end of meetings, and communicate accordingly. Effective tools include newsletters, e-mail lists, bulletin boards and school and community announcements.

 

 

What Research Tells Us

School Councils that make a difference:

• build strong relationships with parents and the community

• establish open, inclusive relationships that invite participation

• provide a mechanism for consultation, advice and information sharing among all members of the school community

• reflect the views of the school community

• work for the benefit of all students.

 

Why engage parents?

• Parents play the first and most important role in their children’s education.

• Parents are the key partners in building a quality education system.

• Parental involvement contributes both to children’s success in school, and to the quality of the school environment.

• Parental involvement is a significant predictor of student success; parents who are involved in their children’s education in some way are more likely to have children who perform better at school.

• A positive school environment enhances children’s education and the community in general.

 

Effective School Councils:

• identify and break down any barriers, and make the School Council a warm, receptive place for parents

• encourage and welcome all parents as participants

• work together as a team

• inform parents of the many ways in which they can be involved in the School Council and how these activities support learning

• have a purpose, vision or goal that is clear and well understood; this applies to the overall direction of the School Council and for each meeting

• promote activities and accomplishments of the School Council and the school.

 

Parents want:

• their children to succeed at school

• their children to experience academic excellence and feel supported as part of a learning community

• meaningful input and the ability to influence decisions affecting their children and their children’s school.

 

 

Reaching Out to Key Players

The investment, support and commitment of all community stakeholders are essential for creating a strong and successful parent involvement program. Helping our students to achieve success is a shared responsibility. By working together, we can build an educational system that supports the needs of all children. Collaborating with Principals, School Councils can develop working relationships with all those who shape their children’s education in the district.

 

The School Principal

The Principal’s leadership establishes the climate and shapes the culture of the entire school. He or she has a pivotal role in establishing a foundation for the school improvement process and school success. The Principal provides a link to teachers, support staff and all activities undertaken by the school. The Principal oversees the organization and management of, and provides leadership for, the school.  He or she also oversees the teaching and discipline of students at the school, and deals with issues of employee performance and issues confidential in nature. The Principal consults the School Council on educational issues and shares its recommendations with senior administration and the Board, when appropriate. He/she provides information to Council and acts as a resource on Ministry and Board policies and regulations. The Principal provides storage for important School Council records.

He/she considers recommendations made by Council and advises Council on any actions taken in response to those recommendations.

 

The Superintendents of Student Achievement

Superintendents of Student Achievement act as a resource to and support the Regional School Councils. They can access information, expertise or supports that the Council requires for effective functioning. Superintendents of Student Achievement are members of the Regional School Councils, and would normally only attend local School Council meetings by invitation. In conjunction with the Chairperson, they have a responsibility to establish a climate that supports the Regional Council. The Superintendent of Student Achievement oversees the operations of groups of schools and leads schools in the improvement of student achievement. He/she also helps establish fair and open conflict resolution procedures for School Councils.

 

The Director of Education

As the chief executive officer of the school district, the Director is the educational leader of the entire community. The Director interacts with the Board and implements the Board’s policies and directions with the support of the administrative structure, including the Associate Director, System Superintendents, Superintendents of Student Achievement, Principals and all employees. Although the Board is responsible for policies, the Director supports the Board in policy development and the establishment of district-wide goals. As such, the Director influences the district culture, which affects how parental involvement is viewed, encouraged and value

 

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

Through strategic planning and the Areas of Emphasis, identified with community input, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board is responsible for the activities and services of schools and the educational programs of the district. The School Board, formed by locally elected Trustees, and an appointed First Nation Trustee, is legally responsible to the Ministry of Education for the policies and procedures that govern the operation of the school district. A Student Trustee, annually selected by the Student Senate to provide a student perspective, sits at the Board table during open meetings and serves on Board committees.

 

Trustees make decisions based on the best interests of all of the students and schools in the district, keeping in mind the concerns of the public in the area in which they were elected, and Board policy and budgets. The Board consults with School Councils about educational issues. Trustees also act as a resource for School Council, but refer administrative matters to a Superintendent.

 

The Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education administers education legislation and sets funding levels. It is responsible for setting general direction for education policy in Ontario and setting guidelines for curriculum and student assessment.  The Ministry reports to School Councils annually about education in the province and provides School Councils with information about their roles and responsibilities.

 

 

Constitution

A constitution defines the purpose of the School Council and outlines goals and values. It ensures consistency and continuity in the Council structure and operation, even if membership changes each year. School Council constitutions must satisfy all requirements of the Board as set out in Policy B-6.1.

A constitution must include by-laws on the following:

• quorum

• governance

• election procedures

• roles of officers and members, including the Principal

• financial accountability

• decision-making

• purpose and scope of activities

• conflict of interest

• communications

• a procedure for filling vacancies

• conflict resolution

• a process for changing the constitution with a two-thirds majority. It may also include:

• code of ethics

• general expectations (re: attendance, promptness) for members

• number and schedule of meetings, with a minimum of four per year

• requirements of signing officers

• establishment and roles of committees, and

• process for seeking community input.

A sample constitution and by-laws are included in the Templates Section of this guide.

 

Decision-Making

It is important to clearly define the process for School Council decision-making. Decision-making may be formal, through voting, or informal, such as reaching consensus.  More information on decision-making can be found in the Tips Section of this guide.

 

Budget & Finances

School Council accounts are subject to audit through Board and Ministry of Education processes. All banking deposits and records must be processed as outlined in the Guidelines For School Generated Funds document, available at all schools.

 

Fundraising

Some School Councils are engaged in fundraising, while others are not.  All Board fundraising guidelines must be followed as outlined in Guidelines for School Generated Funds and school councils must conform with Board Policy BA-4.8 and procedures. In addition,

• School Councils that fundraise should present regular fundraising reports

• funds generated by schools must be spent in consultation with the Principal

• the Principal approves allocation of any funds through the School Council Fundraising Plan

• a School Council budget should be set yearly to guide fundraising. Remember to celebrate the success and commitment of the fundraising team.

 

Committee Structure

School Councils may choose to strike sub-committees to make recommendations. Every committee must include at least one member of School Council who reports to Council and seeks approval for any initiatives. The Principal has final authority over any committee initiatives in the school. Committees may include, but are not limited to:

• Policy Review Committee

• Fundraising Committee

• Volunteer Committee

• Hot Lunch Committee

• Arts Committee

• Playground Committee

• Graduation Committee

• Wellness Committee

 

Membership Roles and Responsibilities

A constitution should also outline members’ roles and responsibilities. For example, School Council members shall:

a) attend and participate in School Council meetings

b) participate in information and training programs as needed

c) act as a link between the School Council and the community

d) welcome the participation of parent(s)/guardian(s) from all groups, and of other people within the community

e) follow Board policies and procedures and comply with applicable legislation

f) act in good faith

g) observe the Council’s code of ethics.

 

Supporting Student Achievement

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board’s fundamental purpose is student success. One of KPR’s guiding principles, outlined in Our Values, states: “We foster parental involvement and community engagement to build partnerships that support student learning.”

The Board’s relationships with School Councils are significant in relation to supporting student achievement. Parental involvement in, and awareness of, school-based initiatives solidifies this connection and strengthens the link between school and home.

School Councils should support student achievement by becoming familiar with, and providing feedback on, school improvement plans. There are also opportunities for School Councils to participate in related initiatives.

Examples of specific School Council activities that support student achievement include:

• Poet/Author in the School

• Art/Music/Theatre in the School

• Library/Literacy/Math resources and support materials

• Literacy/Math Night

• Read-a-thon

• Reading volunteers’ training sessions

• Book Fairs

• Guest Speakers/Performers/Professionals

• EQAO Deconstruction Activity

• Celebrating Successes

• Nutrition and Fitness Programs.

 

Supporting Character Education

Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for developing their children’s character. However, it takes a community to raise a child. This community includes the school and the School Council. Up to seventy per cent of taxpayers in our communities have no children in our schools, yet all of the children in our schools will eventually become adult citizens and, potentially, our neighbours. We all have a responsibility to ensure that the future citizens of our country have good character. To that end, School Councils can help support the development of character and citizenship in our children and our youth in a number of ways.

Councils can:

• Demonstrate good character.

• Take an active interest in what’s happening in the school with respect to character and citizenship education.

• Have representation on the school’s Character and Citizenship Education Committee.

• Encourage community partnerships that provide students with opportunities to give back to their community (i.e. Students Helping Seniors, Coats for Kids).

• Communicate in a variety of ways with parents, guardians, and community members about the school’s character and citizenship building efforts and the need for community involvement in support of this initiative (i.e. newsletters, newspaper articles, radio interviews, posters in community businesses).

• Establish a committee of Council dedicated to promoting and raising awareness of character and citizenship development within the larger school community (i.e. Random Acts of Kindness program, KidsVote Canada program).

• Encourage parents and guardians to talk with their children about good character and active citizenship - what they look like, sound like and feel like, and why they are important for current and future success in life.

• Determine (i.e. through surveys) if there is a need for parent/guardian information sessions to help parents and guardians refine skills for communicating with their children, thereby promoting character development; School Councils may organize such sessions.

• Find ways to celebrate examples of good character and positive citizenship (i.e. awards, incentives, through newsletters).

• Work with community leaders toward declaring the community a Community of Character.

 

Suggested Possible Discussion Topics for School Councils