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J. NLTA Special Interest Councils

The NLTA Provincial Executive Council may approve the formation of special interest councils provided they meet appropriate viability criteria and have a minimum of 75 members or 50 percent of eligible members of a specialized group (e.g. program specialists, teacher librarians, speech-language pathologists, theatre arts teachers, etc.) as verified by the Human Resources Department of the school districts. [2015 BGM]

1. Purpose

Special interest councils are professional learning communities within NLTA, dedicated to lifelong learning and the ongoing professional growth of members. For members who wish to contribute to their Association through the professional development arm of NLTA, special interest councils:

a) provide opportunities for involvement and leadership at provincial and regional levels.

b) offer a professional development program which focuses on teaching and learning, instructional leadership, communications, and curriculum development and implementation.

c) advocate on welfare matters unique to the members of that council and social issues having direct relevance to education.

2. General Administration

a) The overall operations of the special interest councils shall be under the jurisdiction of the Professional Issues Committee, whose terms of reference are as follows:

  1. To make recommendations to the NLTA Provincial Executive Council regarding the formation or disbandment of special interest councils.
  2. To advise the NLTA Provincial Executive Council in regard to funding the operation of special interest councils.
  3. To control, under the direction of the NLTA Provincial Executive Council, the disbursement of all funds allocated for the operation of special interest councils.
  4. To assign resources as required in response to requests from special interest councils.
  5. To assist the officers of special interest councils in organizing, managing, and directing the business and affairs of their respective councils.
  6. To make recommendations to the NLTA Provincial Executive Council with respect to the by-laws of special interest councils.
  7. To encourage special interest councils to make representation to educational authorities that reflects NLTA policy and is vetted through the NLTA Provincial Executive Council or the President.
  8. To consider resolutions submitted to the Biennial General Meeting or to the NLTA Provincial Executive Council relative to special interest councils and make recommendations thereon.
  9. To ensure a smooth transition between special interest council provincial executives by providing for appropriate training and consultation.

b) All by-laws of special interest councils shall be submitted to the Professional Issues Committee for recommendation to the NLTA Provincial Executive Council.

3. Representation 

Special interest councils may promote and make recommendations for immediate action or policy change in one or more of the following ways:

a) Through the NLTA Provincial Executive Council to the Department of Education , school districts, the NLSBA, the Federation of School Councils, and any other organization.

b) To any regular meeting of the NLTA Provincial Executive Council.

c) To Joint Council or the NLTA Biennial General Meeting.

d) To the Professional Issues Committee or the Curriculum Committee.

4. Membership in Councils

a) Membership in a council shall be open to all NLTA active members subject to the membership requirements of the council(s) the member wishes to join and provided membership dues are paid to those councils.

b) Associate membership in a council may be open to any other person who is not an active NLTA member whose professional interest is in a council’s area of concentration.

c) Notwithstanding a) and b) above, any person who has written out of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association shall not be eligible for either active or associate membership within any special interest council.

5. The Executive

a) Membership on the provincial executive of any council is subject to:

  1. active membership within the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association, and
  2. employment in the area of special interest represented by the council at the time of election.

b) The core executive shall comprise the positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Communications Officer.

c) Additional subject-based members of provincial executives may be from any region of the province.

d) The term of office for a provincial executive shall be two years.

e) Any provincial executive may stand for re-election for additional terms.

f) At the end of the first year of a provincial executive’s term of office, voting for a successor executive-elect should take place.

g) Whenever possible, the provincial executives should rotate geographically to various regions around the province.

6. Affiliates

In accordance with Association policy, special interest councils may establish affiliates wherever possible, to a maximum of ten. Such affiliates may be formed either on a regional or subject-area basis.

In general, the establishment and operation of affiliates will be governed by the following considerations:

a) A group of teachers may request the establishment of an affiliate by contacting the provincial executive of a special interest council.

b) Affiliate councils should be considered in light of geographic conditions, the number of teachers in the area, educational needs of the region, and the ability of the provincial council to sustain an affiliate.

c) Affiliate councils function under the direction of the particular council of which they are a part.

d) Core funding for affiliates will be provided by the provincial special interest council. Budgets for affiliates must be submitted to the provincial council and grants will then be allocated on the basis of affiliate need and the provincial council’s ability to pay.

e) Affiliate councils shall maintain accurate and complete financial records, based upon accepted accounting procedures, and shall report such information to the provincial council executive on an annual basis. [Jan/16/04] [JC Feb 04][2005 BGM]

f) When hosting a provincial conference or forum on behalf of the provincial special interest council, the affiliate conference committee must complete a financial report according to accepted accounting practices which must be submitted to the provincial treasurer within 30 days of the conference or forum. [Jan/16/04][JC Feb 04][2005 BGM]

g) In order to maintain status, affiliate councils must submit an annual report, a viability profile, a membership list, and financial report to the provincial special interest council on an annual basis.

h) Whenever an affiliate dissolves, the affiliate executive must close out all bank accounts and forward any remaining funds to the appropriate provincial special interest council.

7. Council Responsibility, Programming and Communications

a) Registration and Budgeting

  1. Immediately upon assuming office, each council executive shall submit a completed registration form to the Programs and Services staff of NLTA.
  2. Special interest councils will develop budgets to address needs of the provincial special interest council executive and any affiliates which may be formed.

b) Programming

  1. Special interest councils will facilitate professional development opportunities such as:
    • conferences
    • teleconferences
    • e-learning
    • symposia
    • focus groups
    • information sessions
  2. As the need arises, special interest councils in accordance with 2 a) vii) will respond to curriculum documents, make representation to government or other agencies on educational issues, and designate representatives to curriculum development/implementation committees.
  3. Special interest councils will:
    • distribute at least two electronic newsletters per year. [2015 BGM]
    • maintain up-to-date websites, with support from NLTA.
    • affiliate with national and international counterpart organizations wherever possible.
    • support affiliates in their programming.
    • when requested by the NLTA Provincial Executive Council, prepare position papers, advocacy strategies, and action plans on issues of professional concern.
    • provide advice to NLTA in the formulation of policy and the conduct of Association affairs. In this regard, councils may make submissions to the NLTA Provincial Executive Council or any advisory committee of the NLTA.
    • design and deliver professional development programs in close collaboration with school boards and the Department of Education.
    • coordinate dates for professional development opportunities through the NLTA Programs and Services staff to ensure enhanced collaboration and to avoid possible conflicts.
    • maintain ongoing communications and liaison with the Programs and Services staff of NLTA.

c) Communication

The viability of special interest councils depends on open communications and collaboration with, not only members, but other partners in the education system. To ensure viability, visibility, and relevance, councils will:

  1. establish formalized liaison with school boards and the Department of Education, so that planning and implementation of programs is a collaborative effort meeting mutual needs.
  2. advertise programs regularly through the NLTA Bulletin, council flyers, council newsletters, websites, listservs, and discussion groups.
  3. provide exact and pertinent information to their membership at least two months in advance when advertising conferences and BGMs.
  4. in accordance with privacy of information legislation maintain accurate mailing lists of all active and associate members and provide a subscription option for others who wish to subscribe to council publications.
  5. expedite communications among councils by ensuring that presidents of other special interest councils are automatically on the mailing list.
  6. maintain accurate minutes of all meetings of the provincial special interest council executive.

8. Reporting

a) Annual Reports

The outgoing executive shall submit a report to the council’s annual or biennial meeting. This shall contain:

  1. a summary of any regional and provincial workshops, conferences, focus groups, or other professional development activities staged during the term.
  2. the number of publications issued.
  3. the number of executive and other meetings that were held.
  4. any projects undertaken in the area of curriculum and instruction.
  5. a registry of paid-up active and associate members, together with mailing addresses for same.
  6. a financial statement to the date of the council’s annual or biennial meeting.
  7. a summary of major activities undertaken by the council. A copy of this report shall be submitted to the Professional Issues Committee of NLTA.

b) Audited Reports 

Within six weeks of the council’s annual or biennial meeting, the outgoing treasurer shall submit to the new executive, a complete audited statement of the council’s income and expenditure, together with expenses applicable to that AGM or BGM.

c) Reports to the Programs and Services Staff of NLTA

  1. By October 31 of each year, councils shall submit a written report of their activities, a viability profile, a financial statement and a budget to the Programs and Services staff of NLTA. [2015 BGM]
  2. Each year councils shall submit a report on the activities of any affiliates, including information on programming, membership, and financial records.

9. By-Law Provisions

The by-laws for each council shall have provisions for:

a) Meetings

  1. Annual
    • The receipt of an annual budget.
    • The receipt of an audited financial statement for the preceding fiscal year.
    • Revisions to the fees for membership in the council for which the required notice of motion has been given.
    • Amendments to the constitution and by-laws for which the required notice of motion has been served.
    • The election of officers for the year ahead. Such election will be held early in the council’s BGM, enabling the outgoing and incoming executive members to meet and facilitate the smooth transition of officers and record books.
    • In the event that a special interest council is unable to hold a BGM with an election of officers, the outgoing executive may act as a nominating committee to identify a new slate of officers which shall be announced through normal NLTA communications. Following distribution of the announcement there shall be a period of six weeks to allow members to voice opposition to the proposed slate or to present another slate for election. If the original slate is unopposed, they shall be declared elected by acclamation. If other slates of officers are presented, the special interest council, in collaboration with Programs and Services staff of NLTA, shall prepare, circulate and tabulate a ballot to elect the new executive by mail or online.
  2. Executive
    • The executive shall meet at regular intervals to conduct the affairs of the council between general meetings.
    • Executive members of provincial special interest councils shall be reimbursed for any expenses at existing NLTA rates and in accordance with NLTA procedures.
  3. Other Meetings
    • The executive may call other meetings.
    • The provincial executive of the council shall be required to call an extraordinary general meeting upon receipt of a written petition signed by the majority of council members (50 percent plus one). Thirty days’ notice must be given for such a meeting.

b) Quorum

  1. Executive Meetings
    For executive meetings, three of the officers shall constitute a quorum.
  2. General Meetings
    For general meetings, the number of members present shall constitute a quorum, provided thirty days’ notice has been given for the meeting.

c) Rules of Order

All meetings of the council, either of a provincial or affiliate nature, shall be governed by “Advice on the Conduct of Meetings”, published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, supplemented by Robert’s Rules of Order.

d) Amendment of By-Laws

The by-laws of a council may be amended by a majority vote of two-thirds of the voting members present, provided that notice of such amendments shall be submitted at least thirty days prior to the general meeting or to a special meeting called for this purpose. All amendments shall be subject to the approval of the NLTA Professional Issues Committee.

10. Grant Allocations and Provincial Conference Funds

a) Membership Fees in Councils

  1.  The maximum annual fee for active membership shall be $100.
  2.  Membership fees shall be established and may be changed by resolution at a general meeting of a particular council.
  3.  Membership fees shall be levied only at the provincial level for any particular council; however, affiliates of councils may generate funds but only in accordance with stated Association policy.

b) Provincial Conference Funds

The surplus revenues from the planning and implementation of a provincial special interest council conference or forum are to be held and controlled by the provincial council and such funds redirected to future conferences and initiatives as identified by the provincial council. [Jan/16/04] [JC Feb 04] [2005 BGM]

11. Funding

a) Special Interest Councils

Based upon submission of appropriate budgets, financial statements, and program plans, each council will receive an administrative grant from NLTA to a maximum of $10,000. [2015 BGM]

b) Affiliate Grants

Based upon submission of appropriate budgets, financial statements, and program plans, each of the councils will provide funding to affiliates, the amount to be determined by the financial needs of each affiliate and the provincial council’s ability to pay.

12. Dissolution

In the event that a provincial council ceases to be active, namely, that the council fails to form an executive or does not meet viability guidelines, the assets of the council shall be turned over to the NLTA and redeployed to special interest council activity.

13. Past Presidents’ Pins

To recognize member involvement, an engraved past president’s pin is automatically supplied to councils by the NLTA office for presentation to a president upon completion of the term of office. [Complete Policy Revised – Mar/30/06] [JC Nov 06] [2007 BGM] [Complete Policy Revised – May/25/12] [2013 BGM]

14. Guidelines for Special Interest Council Contact/Visitation

a) A member of the Provincial Executive shall be assigned as the contact person for each special interest council, preferably having a background or interest in the specific SIC content area.

b) When the Executive contact person is not available for regular or special interest council visitations requiring extensive in-school-day travel, the President, Vice-President, or a staff person shall be assigned, upon request, to assist the council president.

c) All costs associated with an Executive member’s liaison role with their assigned special interest council will be the responsibility of the NLTA President’s Office. Special interest councils will assume no financial responsibility for any costs accrued by the Executive liaison.

d) Duties for Executive Contacts with Special Interest Councils

  1. To inform the special interest council that you are the contact person for the year. This should be done as soon as possible after the August Executive meeting and should include a brief outline of your role as special interest council contact person.
  2. Where feasible, and upon the approval of funds by the NLTA President, the Provincial Executive member will visit the assigned special interest council at least once a year.
  3. To serve special interest council officers further by being a phone/e-mail contact for instant information, clearing up difficulties, giving general advice, or interpreting Association policy. The special interest council contact person should contact each of their assigned special interest council presidents at least once per month.
  4. To provide direct representation, re the interests and wishes of the special interest council when requested by them, at Executive meetings.
  5. To fill the role of special contact with delegate(s) from your assigned special interest council(s) at Convention by providing clarification, advice, etc., and by introducing them to your colleagues and others known to you.
  6. To provide specific assistance, when requested, in the area of special interest council planning for professional development days.
  7.  To report on your contact/visit with your assigned special interest council at all Executive meetings.

e) Duties for Special Interest Council Presidents

  1. The special interest council president should ensure that the special interest council contact person is kept informed of special interest council activities.
  2. The special interest council president should ensure that the interests and concerns of the special interest council are conveyed to the special interest council contact person.

f) Other Visits

  1. Additional visits by the contact person beyond the one official visit must be cleared with the President’s office. In all cases, funding for all visits must be approved in advance by the NLTA President.
  2. Visits by persons other than the assigned liaison person must be cleared with the President’s office, which has the responsibility for special interest council operations, and may be authorized only if funds are available. [Dec/13-14/13] [JC Mar/14] [2015 BGM]