Smart Parent's Guide To School Site Councils

Parent Input is Needed For School Site Councils. Image Source Via Getty Images

Have you ever wished that you could have some direct input in running your child's school?  I am not talking about suddenly becoming the new school principal, or running out and getting a degree to be a school administrator.  Just being part of a group that helps develop and review plans to improve your local school.  

If this is the type of input you would like to have, then joining a School Site Council could be for you.

What is A School Site Council?

School Site Councils are made up of teachers, support staff, parents, and usually the school principal of individual schools.  Site Councils will review and develop various programs for the schools.  Some states require all public school to have a site council.  Other schools may be required to have a site council as a part of a required school improvement plan, when the school failed to meet guidelines under Federal or State Guidelines.  Some schools or districts will choose to have site councils because of a desire to include parents and school staff together to make decisions about the school.

How Are Site Councils Different from PTA/PTO?

While both groups support the school and are made up of parents and school staff, there are some key differences.  PTA/PTO's are groups that come together to support the school, while school site councils are directly concerned with making and reviewing decisions about how the school is run.

 PTA/PTO's are really autonomous from the school, having their own budgets, and freely determining their own needs.  Any parent, teacher, or administrator can join a PTA/PTO, or choose not to join.

Site Councils are usually made up from a  specific, designated positions within the school and parent community.

 Often the school principal, a required number of teachers, a required number of school support staff, and a required number of parents or guardians make up the site council.  Members are often required to be elected to these positions.  

What Does A School Site Council Members Do?

The point of the school site council is to have the local school community give input and make decisions for managing the school.  Being knowledgeable about the local school and community will help to make these decisions.  Be prepared to review data about school and students performance, budget information, monitoring activities, establishing school goals and monitoring progress towards these goals.  A willingness to become familiar with local, state and educational policy issues is very helpful.  School site council members need to attend all meetings, attend any required trainings. 

How Can I Join The School Site Council?

So, if you have a strong desire to get more involved with your child's school by being a decision maker AND you also are wanting to spend more time with school staff and other parents, you are a good fit for school site council.

 You might see  information about joining school site council in the school newsletter or website.  You can also check with your school's office or principal.  Most schools select site council members early in the school year.  If you are too late for this year, express your interest for joining the following school year, or ask what similar opportunities for parents exist.

My Child's School Doesn't Have a School Site Council, But I want to Be Involved In This Way

Not every school has a specific site council, but there are often other opportunities to participate in the decision making and monitoring of your local school.  Watch the school newsletter and website for parent advisory councils.  Sometimes school administrators will ask from input from the PTA/PTO or booster club parents since administrators know that those parents are involved and knowledgeable about the school.     

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