T. Formation and Operation of School Councils
- The NLTA believes that school-based decision making can be an avenue for teacher empowerment and a mechanism for cooperative partnerships in education, both of which will enhance the possibilities an improved learning environment.
- The NLTA supports the concept of school councils as a mechanism for the realization of school-based decision making provided the following conditions are met:
a) School councils are advisory in nature.
b) The authority of school councils is embodied in legislation. Such legislation must delineate the relationship of school councils to school boards, and the parameters of the jurisdiction of each. The development of protocol agreements in this regard should cease. If there is a necessity for such agreements beyond legislation, a standard document should be developed by representatives of school boards and school councils, and used province-wide.
c) School councils have the responsibility to set school policy consistent with school board policy in well-defined areas which have an impact on learning outcomes. These areas should include policy related to curriculum, scheduling, facilities, student evaluation, school discipline, budget, staffing and professional development.
d) While policy development is the legislated responsibility of school councils, policy implementation is the domain of the administration and professional staff of the school.
e) Ultimately, the principal and teachers of a school are the focus of accountability for educational outcomes. Those vested with that responsibility must have the right to make the decisions affecting those outcomes. Therefore, the number of teachers who serve on school councils, must not be less than the total number of non-teachers serving on the council. Participation of teachers in the work of school councils should not negatively impact on their overall workload and day to day duties and responsibilities.
f) Should the principal decide to serve as a member of the school council, he or she must be a full participating member of the council with the right to vote and the right to be chairperson, if duly elected by majority vote of the council. [Nov/27/08] [JC Feb/09] [2009 BGM]
g) The decision-making process of school councils is undertaken through consensus building whenever possible.
h) The chairperson of the school council is decided by the council members.
i) Subsection e) above notwithstanding, standing committees on specified policy areas are established to assist the school councils in their work. Additional ad hoc committees are established by the school council as needs dictate. Committees should involve both parents and teachers. Committees should be responsible to and report only to the school councils. They should have only the power to make recommendation to the school council on policy structure or implementation of policy decisions.
j) Training in the purpose and operation of school councils is provided to teachers, parents and other stakeholders province-wide on an ongoing basis. Specific training for school council members must include:
i) the meaning of educational accountability;
ii) the process of consensus building, problem solving and conflict resolution;
iii) effective procedures for council operation including the committee structure; and
iv) examination of legislation, protocol agreements (if any) and budgetary provisions.
k) Teachers, elected to serve on a school council, shall remove themselves from any discussions and/or decisions where such discussions and/or decisions might result in a conflict of interest of a professional or collegial nature.
l) Teachers, elected to serve on a school council, are permitted to speak as a full participating member without jeopardizing their relationship to their employment. [Jan/8-9/99] [1999 BGM]
- School councils have a significant impact on the role of the teacher and require a considerable time commitment from principals and teachers in order to make them function effectively. The time available to teachers and administrators for school related work is already at a premium. The time required for the work of school councils has to come from some other area to which the teacher has made commitments, or add additional pressure to the teachers work schedule. Questions as to how this time is to be provided, what form of compensation is to be available, how certain non-teaching duties can be reduced or eliminated (i.e. lunch time supervision) must be satisfactorily answered. [Nov/27/08] [JC Feb/09] [2009 BGM]
- Teachers, by virtue of their participation on school councils shall be reimbursed for any personal expenses incurred in filling their mandate as council members.
- Teachers/administrators who serve on school councils should receive compensation through extra pay or time off in lieu of pay. [Jan/8-9/99] [1999 BGM]
- Teacher participation on school councils is encouraged by NLTA as a means of developing, enhancing and maintaining family/community partnerships for the improvement of education. In the spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility, the Association supports the involvement of teachers participating on a voluntary basis. [June/6/97] [JC Feb/98] [1999 BGM]