, Newburyport, MA


December 5, 2013

School councils:Where it's at

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 71 Section 59c defines the state mandates for individual school councils. For several years, the district has failed to comply with the laws with some schools within the district not even having school councils. These laws assure public accountability for public education, as they are required to convene regularly subject to the rules governing Open Meeting Laws with publicly announced meetings open to all.

Last year, these deficiencies were brought to the attention of the Newburyport School Committee, resulting in the current new superintendent’s development of a districtwide plan. Despite this plan, individual schools have failed to institute school councils in full compliance with the state statutes.

Each school council is required to have elections of parent and teacher members, there must be equal parity among parent and teacher members, a community representative can be appointed by the respective principal and their meetings must be open to the public, although some schools in the district convene their meetings at 7 a.m., questioning their willingness to be transparent to the public as required by law. This continued defiance of the law and the associated lack of public review of individual school policies, procedures, student achievement and budget cannot be allowed to persist. There must be public accountability for public education.

Elected members of school councils are public officials with clearly defined roles and responsibilities that guarantee state-mandated public accountability for local schools. Unlike PTOs, valuable in their own right, school councils function more as official committees. Although clearly tasked with the creation of the School Improvement Plan (SIP), this should not be their sole function. Their duties and responsibilities, defined by the state, include the adoption of educational goals and identifying the educational needs of students in a given school.

In addition, school councils are required to review the individual school’s annual budget before presentation to the School Committee and the councils can and should make non-binding recommendations to the School Committee for approval. School councils can initiate the creation of valuable subcommittees with extended memberships to other members of the public to investigate, analyze and arrive at a consensus for a solution to any identified problems or tasks. The School Committee, if so desired, can also grant additional authority in the area of educational policy.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Tsarnaev Friend Is Convicted In First Boston Marathon Trial Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans