STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Circular Letter: C-3
TO: Superintendents of Schools
Executive Directors of Regional Educational Service Centers
Directors of Magnet and Charter Schools
FROM: Mark K. McQuillan, Commissioner of Education
DATE: October 4, 2010
SUBJECT: Overview of New School Governance Council Requirements
The state education reform law (Public Act 10-111) recently passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor includes provisions for School Governance Councils (councils) in Section 21(g). This letter provides a brief overview of the statute for all superintendents. The full text of Public Act 10-111 is available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/ACT/Pa/pdf/2010PA-00111-R00SB-00438-PA.pdf. Additional guidance will be provided to those schools and districts most immediately impacted by this new legislation.
Purpose of Councils: School Governance Councils provide an unprecedented opportunity for stakeholders in Connecticut schools to craft a productive collaboration to support student success. The intent of councils is to enable parents, school staff, students (where appropriate) and community leaders to work together to improve student achievement in the state's lowest performing schools.
Impacted Schools and Timeline: The statute requires the following schools to establish School Governance Councils within the following timelines:
schools that are among the lowest five percent of the state's schools based on student achievement and failing to make adequate yearly progress in mathematics and reading at the whole school level prior to July 1, 2010, must establish councils no later than January 15, 2011 (see attached list of schools); and
schools that have been identified as not making adequate yearly progress in mathematics and reading at the whole school level and are not among the lowest five percent of schools prior to July 1, 2010, must establish councils by November 1, 2011 (see attached list of schools).
Box 2219 Hartford , Connecticut 06145
An Equal Opportunity Employer Overview of New School Governance Council Requirements October 4, 2010 Page 2
In order to even out the rate of implementation statewide, districts required to establish councils by January 15, 2011 (i.e., Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven and Windham), are strongly encouraged to examine the list of schools slated for November 2011 implementation and establish as many councils as possible in the district by the January deadline.
Districts not impacted by the January deadline, but must meet the November 1, 2011, deadline, are also urged to start a year ahead of schedule by establishing as many councils as possible now.
Finally, any school board may voluntarily establish a council for any school this year and may choose to use the model described in the statute or an alternate model.
Districts choosing the Early Implementation option should direct questions to Judy Carson at 860-807-2122 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Membership in a Council: School Governance Councils are intended to represent the diverse interests of the families and staff that make up the school community. To that end, every effort must be made to engage broad participation in the council election process.
The councils consist of 14 voting members plus up to three nonvoting members depending on the type of school involved. The following tables describe the members, the number of members and how members are selected.
SCHOOL GOVERNANCE COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP AND SELECTION PROCESS
ADDITIONAL MEMBERS AND SELECTION PROCESS IN HIGH SCHOOLS
Voting members have two-year terms, and no member can serve more than two terms on a council. The nonvoting student members serve a one-year term, and no student member can serve more than two terms. Overview of New School Governance Council Requirements October 4, 2010 Page 3
Council Responsibilities : School Governance Councils serve in an advisory capacity and shall assist the school administration in the areas listed below:
analyze school achievement data and school needs as they relate to the school's improvement plan;
review the fiscal objectives of the school's draft budget and advise the principal before the budget is submitted to the superintendent;
participate in the hiring process of the school principal or other administrators of the school by conducting interviews of candidates and reporting on such interviews to the superintendent of schools for the school district and the local and regional board of education;
assist the principal in making programmatic and operational changes to improve the school's achievement;
develop and approve a written school parent involvement policy that outlines the role of parents and guardians (Note: Schools that receive federal Title 1 funds are required to have a parent involvement policy developed jointly with, approved by, and distributed to parents. A school's Title 1 parent involvement policy can serve the purpose of the policy required under this section.); and
work with school administrators in developing and approving a school compact for parents, legal guardians, and students that outlines the school's goals and academic focus identifying ways that parents and school personnel can build a partnership to improve student learning. (Note: Schools that receive federal Title 1 funds are required to have a school-parent compact, developed with parents. A school's Title 1 compact can serve the purpose of the compact required under this section.)
In addition to its required responsibilities, a council may:
· assist in developing and reviewing the school improvement plan and advise the principal before the report is submitted to the superintendent of schools;
· work with the principal to develop, conduct, and report the results of an annual survey of parents, guardians, and teachers on issues related to the school climate and conditions; and
· provide advice to the principal on any other major policy matters affecting the school, except on matters relating to collective bargaining agreements between the teachers and the board of education.
· In addition to School Governance Councils' responsibilities, it is also important to recognize the limits of their advisory function. The duties of School Governance Councils do not entail activities including, but not limited to:
· managing the school;
· supervising staff;
· entering into contracts or purchase agreements;
· discussing individual issues between teachers and students and/or parents;
· determining student eligibility for school admission; or
· determining class allocations or student assignments.
Overview of New School Governance Council Requirements October 4, 2010 Page 4
After being in place for three years , a council may vote to recommend that a school be reconstituted using one of the following models for reconstitution: (1) turnaround; (2) restart; (3) transformation; (4) CommPact school; (5) innovation school; and (6) any other model developed under federal law. However, a council cannot vote to reconstitute a school if it was already reconstituted for another purpose. The statute provides a process whereby the council's recommendation for reconstitution must be heard by the local board of education which must accept, modify or reject the proposal. In a case where the council and the local board of education cannot agree on reconstitution, the Commissioner of Education must decide. The State Board of Education cannot allow more than 25 schools per year to be reconstituted under this law.
Training: The statute requires local boards of education to provide appropriate training and instruction to members of the School Governance Councils to aid them in executing their duties. Districts should consider using their Title 1 parent involvement funding, where applicable, to support the work of the councils.
State Department of Education Responsibilities: This significant legislation requires the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to oversee and report periodically about schools with councils to the Connecticut General Assembly on matters such as: the number of councils; the schools that have been reconstituted; the level of parent involvement; and school progress related to student attendance, achievement and discipline.
Throughout the 2010-11 school year, the CSDE will support the work of developing and implementing councils by issuing guidance on topics such as: conducting the election and nomination processes, training and support for effective governance; considering school reconstitution; and implementing effective school-parent compacts.
The CSDE is currently working to provide guidance and support for implementation of this new legislation. Meetings are being convened with stakeholder groups and a series of community forums are planned for October and November in collaboration with the Connecticut Parent Information and Resource Center (CT PIRC). In addition, the CSDE will establish a council web page on the agency's Web site to provide updated information and resources, and to continue to communicate with school and district leaders, parents and community members to promote effective and collaborative councils.
The CSDE views School Governance Councils as a unique opportunity for Connecticut schools to engage with families and community members in the essential dialogue about student achievement and preparing all students for success.
Any questions regarding this issue may be directed to Judy Carson at 860-807-2122 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
School Governance Councils
Schools Required to Implement Councils by January 15, 2011
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