School Community Councils

Approved:       10-16-02
Revised:           11-8-06 and 8-10-11 (Revision of whole Policy)
Revised:           10-9-13; 11-9-16

Philosophy—

The purpose of the School Community Council shall be to build consistent and effective communication among parents, teachers, and administrators. This allows parents to be actively involved in their children’s education through helping to establish and implement educational goals for their respective schools. In this regard, the responsibilities of the School Community Council are advisory in nature. The authority of the Council does not supersede the authority of the principal, the superintendent, or the Board of Education. The Board hereby establishes the following guidelines in the operation of School Community Councils:

Formation of Community Councils—

Each school within the District shall, in consultation with the Board of Education, establish a School Community Council at the school building level.

A school or District administrator may not prohibit or discourage a Community Council from discussing issues, or offering advice or recommendations, regarding the school and its programs, school district programs, the curriculum, or the community environment for students.

The Board shall report approval dates of required plans (listed below) to the State Board of Education.   
Utah Code 53A-1a-108 (2016)

Purposes of Community Councils—

The purposes of School Community Councils are to involve parents or guardians of students in decision making at the school level, improve the quality of education of students, prudently expend School LAND Trust Program money, and increase public awareness of school trust lands and related land policies, management of the State School Fund, and educational excellence.
Utah Code § 53A-1a-108(2) (2016)

Composition of Councils—

Each School Community Council shall consist of school employees (including the school's principal) and parents or guardians of students who are attending the school.

The recommended composition of School Community Councils for high schools is six (6) parent or guardian members and five (5) school employee members (including the principal). The recommended composition of School Community Councils for other schools is four (4) parent or guardian members and two (2) employee members (including the principal). While the number of members can be larger or smaller than the recommended number, there must be two (2) school employee members and at least two (2) more parent or guardian members than school employee members. Each School Community Council shall nominate a chair from its parent or guardian members or school employee members other than the principal.

The number of parent or guardian members of a School Community Council who are not educators employed by the school district shall exceed the number of parent or guardian members who are educators employed by the school district.

Each Community Council shall elect a chair from its parent or guardian members and a vice chair from its parent or guardian members or school employee members other than the principal. 
Utah Code 53A-1a-108 (2016)

Notice of Available Community Council Positions—

The principal of the school, or the principal's designee, shall provide notice of the opportunity to vote in, and run as a candidate in the election to school employees, parent, or guardian at least ten (10) days before the date of the election.  The notice shall include:

  1. the dates,  times, and location of the election;
  2. a list of Council positions that are up for election; and
  3. instructions for becoming a candidate for a Community Council position.
  4. the location where a ballot may be cast; and
  5. the means by which a ballot may be cast, whether in person, by mail, or by electronic means.

At least once per year, the principal shall post on the school website an invitation to parents to serve on the School Community Council that includes an explanation of how a parent can directly influence the expenditure of the School LAND Trust Program fund and the dollar amount the school receives each year from that program.
Utah Code 53A-1a-108(5)(c) (2016)
Utah Admin. Rules R277-491-3 (2016)
Utah Admin. Rules R277-491-4(2) (2016)

Selection of School Employee Members—

The principal shall serve as an ex officio member with full voting privileges.  A school administrator may not serve as chair or vice chair of the School Community Council.

Employee members shall be elected by secret ballot by a majority vote of the school employees. The principal, or the principal's designee, shall oversee the elections. Results of the election shall be made available to the public upon request.

If an employee position on the Council remains unfilled following an election, the other employee members of the Council shall appoint an employee to fill the position, and the Council chair shall notify the Board of Education of the appointment.
Utah Code 53A-1a-108 (2016)

Selection of Parent and/or Guardian Members

Parent or guardian members shall be elected by secret ballot by a majority vote of those voting in an election held at the school.  Ballots cast in this election shall be deposited in a secure ballot box. Only parents or guardians of students attending the school are eligible to vote in this election. The principal, or the principal's designee, shall oversee the elections.  Results of the election shall be made available to the public upon request.

Following the election, the principal shall complete the Principal’s Assurance Form on the School LAND Trust website, affirming that the School Community Council has been properly elected and vacancies filled as necessary and that the Council’s bylaws or procedures comply with law.
       Utah Admin. Rules R277-491-4(1) (July 8, 2016)

If the number of parent or guardian candidates is less than or equal to the number of open parent or guardian positions, no election is required.

Any parent or guardian who qualifies to be a candidate may file or declare him or herself as a candidate for election to the Council. An individual qualifies to be a candidate if she or he is the parent or guardian of a student who will be enrolled at the school at any time during the parent or guardian's initial term of office; however, if the parent or guardian is also an educator at the school, the parent or guardian is not eligible to be a “parent or guardian” candidate or member of the Council if his or her employment with the school exceeds an average of more than six (6) hours per week.

The election for the parent and/or guardian members shall be held in the spring or in the fall, as determined by each school’s principal. However, once the election season has been determined, it must remain the same for at least four years before it can be changed.

Spring elections for parent or guardian members shall be scheduled by the principal on a date or dates such that the election is completed before the last week of school.  For spring elections, the School Community Council shall attempt to notify the parents of incoming students of the opportunity to run for the Council and shall provide those parents with the opportunity to vote in the election.

Fall elections for parent or guardian members shall be scheduled by the principal on a date or dates such that the election is completed before October 15.

If a parent or guardian position on the Council remains unfilled following an election, the other parent or guardian members of the Council shall appoint a parent or guardian who meets the above qualifications to fill the position, and the Council chair or co-chairs shall notify the Board of Education of the appointment.

Utah Code Ann. §53A-1a-108 (2016)
            Utah Admin. Code R277-491-3(1) (July 8, 2016)

Term of Office—

Elected or appointed members of the Council shall serve a two (2) year term beginning the first day of July. However, initial terms shall be staggered so that no more than 50% of Council members stand for election in any one year. A School Community Council member’s term shall be extended as needed until his or her replacement’s term begins (for example, to avoid a gap that would result from a shift from one election season to the other). A School Community Council member may serve successive terms so long as the member continues to meet the eligibility requirements to be a parent or guardian member or an employee member. If a change to a statute or regulation affects the composition of the Council, a Council member who was elected or appointed before the change may complete the term to which she or he was elected.

      Utah Code Ann. §53A-1a-108 (2015)
      Utah Admin. Rules R277-491-3(4) (July 8, 2016)

Updating Council Membership—

By or before October 20 of each year, the principal shall enter the names of the Council members on the state School LAND Trust Program website.
       Utah Code Ann. § 53A-1a-108(5)(g) (2016)

Duties of Councils—

Each School Community Council shall advise and make recommendations to the school, school district administrators, and the local school board regarding the school and its programs, school district programs, and other issues relating to the community environment for students. Councils may also advise and inform the Board and other members of the school community regarding the uses of School LAND Trust Program funds.  They shall also encourage participation on the Council and may recruit potential applicants to apply for open Council positions.  Councils shall establish clear written procedures which govern removal from office of members who move away or who consistently do not attend meetings, as well as additional clarifications to assist in the efficient operation of the Council consistent with the law and with Board rule.

     Utah Code § 53A-1a-108(2) (2016)
     Utah Admin. Rules R277-491-6(2) (July 8, 2016)

Each School Community Council shall also:

  1. Create a School Improvement Plan in accordance with 53A-1a-108.5;
  2. Create a School LAND Trust program for the school in accordance with 53A-16-101.5;
  3. Advise and make recommendations to school and District administrators and the School Board and its programs, school District programs, a child access routing plan in accordance with 53A-3-402, and other issues relating to the community environment for students; and
  4. Each School Community Council for an elementary school shall develop a Reading Achievement Plan in accordance with State law.
     Utah Code 53A-1-a-108(3) (2016)

Each School Community Council shall also provide for education and awareness on safe technology use and digital citizenship that empowers students to make smart media and online choices and students’ parents or guardians to know how to discuss safe technology use with their students.  (“Digital citizenship” means the norms of appropriate, responsible, and healthy behavior related to technology use, including digital literacy, ethics, etiquette, and security.)  Each School Community Council shall also partner with the school’s principal or other administrators to ensure that adequate on- and off-campus Internet filtering is installed and consistently configured to prevent viewing of harmful content by students and school personnel. 
      Utah Code § 53A-1a-108(1)(a), (3)(a)(iv), (v), (b) (2016)

To assist the Community Council in fulfilling these responsibilities, the principal shall annually provide the Council with a report which summarizes the current safe technology and digital citizenship practices of the District and the school, including (1) information on internet filtering protocols for school and District devices which access the internet, (2) instructional practices, monitoring, and reporting procedures, and (3) and required internet safety training.
       Utah Admin. Rules R277-491-6(3) (July 8, 2016)

Community Council Training—

The superintendent or designee shall provide annual training to the Community Councils of the District.  This training shall include education of the chair and vice chair regarding their responsibilities, informing Council members about the resources available on the state School LAND Trust website, and educating the members about statutes which govern School Community Councils, including:

  1. Establishment, composition, and duties of Community Councils;
  2. Open meeting requirements applicable to Community Councils;
  3. The school improvement plan; and
  4. The School LAND Trust Program.

Training is also available from the School Children’s Trust Section under the State Board of Education.
     Utah Code § 53A-1a-108(8) (2016)
     Utah Code § 53A-16-101.6(13) (2016)

Compliance with Open Meetings Law—

Because School Community Council plans and recommendations are subject to approval by the Board of Education, the Board desires that School Community Councils conduct their business in an open and transparent manner.  Therefore, the Board requires that School Community Councils comply with the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act, and adopt policies and procedures for holding meetings that satisfy the requirements of that Act.  In addition to any other requirements of that Act, a School Community Council shall, at least one week prior to a meeting, post the following information on the school's website: notice of the meeting date, time, and place; an agenda for the meeting; and a summary of the previous meeting. The Board of Education has adopted policies for its meetings to conform to the requirements of the Act, and School Community Councils may use those policies as a model for their policies and procedures, adapting those that are applicable.
      Utah Code § 52-4-103(9)(c)(iii) (2016)
      Utah Code § 53A-1a-108.1 (2015)

The written minutes of a School Community Council meeting are a public record under Title 63G, Chapter 2, Government Records Access and Management Act and shall be retained for three years.

Minimum Information to be Distributed—

A School Community Council shall provide the following information:

  1. the proposed School Community Council meeting schedule for the year, provided during the first two weeks of the school year;
  2. a summary of the School Community Council's actions and activities during the first half of the school year. This information will be available at the mid-point of the school year;
  3. a summary of the annual report required under Section 53A-16-101.5 on how the school's School LAND Trust Program money was used to enhance or improve academic excellence at the school and implement a component of the School's Improvement Plan, provided at the beginning of the next school year; and
  4. a telephone number, if available, and email address, if available, where each School Community Council member can be reached directly.

The School Community Council shall provide the information by:

  1. posting the information on the school's website; and
  2. providing individual delivery to each household that has a student attending the school by mailing the information, delivering a voice message describing the information and explaining where to obtain the full information, sending an e-mail message containing the information, providing the information in a packet that is to be delivered to a student's parent or guardian (during the school's annual registration period, or with the student's report card), or using a combination of these methods.

School Improvement Plan—

Each School Community Council shall create a school improvement plan. In developing this plan, the Council shall annually evaluate and use the results of the school's testing data.  (However the Council may not have access to data which reveals the identity of students.)

The school improvement plan shall:

1.   Identify the school's most critical academic needs;

2.   Recommend a course of action to meet those needs;

3.   List any programs, practices, materials, or equipment that the school will need to implement its action plan to have a direct impact on the instruction of students and result in measurably increased student
       performance; and

4.   Describe how the school intends to enhance or improve academic achievement, including how financial resources available to the school (for example, state and federal grants, or School LAND Trust Program monies)
      will be used for this purpose; and

5.    If the Council represents an elementary school, include a Reading Achievement Plan developed in accordance with this policy and with Utah Code 53A-1-606.5.

The school principal shall make the school budget and other data available to the Council as needed in developing the School Improvement Plan.

The School Improvement Plan developed by the Council is subject to the approval of the Board of Education. The School Improvement Plan as approved by the Board of Education shall be implemented by the school. The school shall provide ongoing support for the Council's plan.

The school shall also through the School Community Council prepare and present an annual report to the Board of Education at the end of the school year which details the use of School LAND Trust funds and which assesses the results obtained from the use of those funds, and which also details the use of funds from other sources and the results obtained from use of those sources.

The Council may develop a multi-year School Improvement Plan, but the Plan must nevertheless be presented to and approved by the Board of Education each year.
     Utah Code 53A-1a-108.5 (2016)

School LAND Trust Program—

In developing the School Improvement Plan, the Council shall include a program to use the School LAND Trust funds allocated to the school to implement a component of the School Improvement Plan, including a description of programs, practices, materials or equipment needed to implement the component of the Plan.

The program developed by the Council to use the School LAND Trust funds is subject to the approval of the Board of Education. The program, as approved by the Board of Education, shall be implemented by the school. The school shall provide ongoing support for the Council's plan. The school shall also publicize to its patrons and the general public how the School LAND Trust funds were used to implement a component of the Improvement Plan and the results of those efforts. Also, through the School Community Council, the school shall prepare and present an annual report to the Board of Education at the end of the school year which details the use of School LAND Trust funds and which assesses the results obtained from the use of those funds.

The Council may develop a multi-year program for using School LAND Trust funds, but the program must nevertheless be presented to and approved by the Board of Education each year.

The Council shall consider the approval of a plan for the School LAND Trust Program money in a meeting of the School Community Council at which a quorum is present.

If a majority of the quorum votes to approve a plan for the use of School LAND Trust Program money, the plan is approved.

A School Community Council shall:

1.   1.   submit a plan for the use of School LAND Trust program money that is presented to the Board of Education for its approval;
2.   include with the plan a report noting the number of Community Council members who voted for or against the approval of the plan and number of members who were absent for the vote; and
3.  submit a revised Plan to the Board of Education if the Board disapproves of a Plan for the use of School LAND Trust Program money
      Code 53A-16-101.5 (2016)

Child Access Routing Plan—

Each School Community Council shall annually develop a Child Access Routing Plan for its school and submit it to the school traffic safety committee.
     Utah Code § 53A-3-402(17)(c)(ii) (2016)
     Utah Code § 53A-1a-108 (2016)

Reading Achievement Plan for Elementary Schools—

The School Community Council for each elementary school shall develop a Reading Achievement Plan, as part of the School Improvement Plan, for the school, which shall be submitted to the District for review and approval prior to implementation. The Reading Achievement Plan must be reviewed and approved by the District annually. (In developing this Plan, the Council may not have access to data that reveal the identity of students.)

Following approval by the District, the Reading Achievement Plan shall be implemented by the school's principal, teachers, and other appropriate staff.

The Reading Achievement Plan shall be designed to reach the long-term goal of having all students in the school reading on or above grade level by the end of the third grade.

The Reading Achievement Plan shall include the following components:

  1. An assessment component that focuses on ongoing formative assessment to measure the five domains of reading (phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary), as appropriate, and to inform instructional decisions, and which includes a reading assessment selected from a list recommended by the State Board of Education.
  2. An intervention component that:
    1. Provides adequate and appropriate interventions focused on each student attaining proficiency in reading skills;
    2. Is based on best practices identified through proven research-based methods;
    3. Provides intensive intervention, such as focused instruction in small groups, implemented at the earliest possible time for students having difficulty in reading;
    4. Provides an opportunity for parents to receive materials and guidance so that they will be able to assist their children in attaining proficiency in reading skills; and
    5. As resources allow, involves a reading specialist.
  3. A reporting component that includes reporting to parents their child’s literacy profile which documents ongoing formative assessment results and, at the end of third grade, their child’s reading level.
         Utah Code 53A-1-606.5 (2016)

Subcommittees and Task Forces—

A School Community Council may create subcommittees or task forces to advise the Council or make recommendations to the Council, or to develop all or part of the plans that the Council's duties require it to prepare. However, any plan or portion thereof developed by a subcommittee or task force shall be subject to the approval of the Council.

A School Community Council may appoint individuals who are not members of the Council to serve on a subcommittee or task force (including parents, school employees, or other community members).
     Utah Code 53A-1a-108 (2016)

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