About School Councils in Massachusetts
What is a School Council?
Each public school in Massachusetts has a school council. The councils were created by the Education Reform Act of 1993 to provide an opportunity for parents, teachers, and community partners to share ideas and influence decisions that shape and strengthen teaching and learning
in their local schools.
The Role of School Councils
The primary role of each school council is to gather information related to the quality of teaching and learning at its school, to formulate specific ideas that can improve the teaching and the learning, and to presents these ideas to the school principal and the school committee. In
this role, the council can be viewed as a conduit through which parents, teachers, and community participants can formally influence decisions affecting their school.
The members of the council have the
responsibility of becoming familiar with both, the budgetary constraints, and the established goals of the district. They need to work in cooperation with the school committee and the school administration.
Massachusetts Department of Education has published a handbook that explains in detail
the role and responsibilities of the councils.
The law outlines four major areas of responsibility for councils. School councils are to assist principals in:
MGL c. 71, sec. 59C
- 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
Councils are composed of three groups of people: (1) parents or guardians of students attending
(2) teachers; and
(3) other persons drawn from such groups or entities as municipal government, business and labor organizations, institutions of higher education, human service agencies or other interested groups, including those from school-age child care programs. (High school councils also include student representatives.)
The size and composition of each council is determined by the principal, but the law requires that the number of parents serving on a council
be equal to the number of teachers (including
the principal), and that the number of
non-school members not exceed 50% of the
entire council membership.
Parent members are selected by the parents of students attending the school in elections held by the recognized parent-teacher organization (PTO). Teacher members are selected by the teachers in the school. Non-school members are recruited by the principal.
Council members serve three year terms, although parents may end up with shorter terms if their children leave the school before the three years are up. The terms are staggered, so a few new members join the council each year.
About the Ottoson School Council
How to join
If you would like to join the Ottoson School Council, please contact OPAC (the Ottoson Parent Advisory Council) stating your intention of becoming a candidate. You should also include a short political statement indicating why you are interested and what your credentials are. Such statements can then be used to prepare a ballot letter.
If you are a parent/guardian, please consider joining at least three years before your last child leaves Ottoson, so you can serve a full three-year term.
Elections are held at the beginning of each school year.
Meetings are open to the public
All School Council meetings are open to the public and will be announced once times and dates are set.
Please consult the school announcements and the school calendar.
Current Activities and Prior Accomplishments
The primary role of the Council is to formulate school improvement ideas and to submit them to the principal and the school committee.
The Council undertakes various specific actions that directly affect teaching, learning, and communications at Ottoson.
For example in past years (2012-14) the focus has been on the school improvement plan, on revising the student handbook and on the development of the advisories and small learning communities.
In the past a teacher on the Council was instrumental in creating the S.T.A.R.S. (Students Taking Action and Responsibility for Success) program. This is an in-house suspension intervention program that places a student having difficulties in particular aspects of their school experience in a quiet, controlled environment, and provides an intermediary that can communicate with teachers, counselors, parents, and administrators.