What is the role of the school committee?

Now, isn’t that an interesting question?  What does a  do?

Before you read on, do you actually know a school committee’s responsibilities?

Since being elected to the Lunenburg School Committee, I have been asked a lot of questions which some residents expect I can answer right there and then!

I have received questions about:

  • Staffing in the schools
  • schedules and menus
  • Bus routes including lengths and timing
  • Drop off and pick up times for each of the schools
  • Budget allocations
  • Teacher contracts

So, I began to ask myself:  ”Am I really responsible for knowing all of this as a school committee member?”  As I began to educate myself and ask others their ideas about the school committee’s role, I found a wide variety of opinions and ideas.  I turned to The  for guidance. This organization has defined the following areas of responsibility: Policy, Finance, Staffing, Collective bargaining, Performance Standards, Professional development, School Councils, Advocacy, Curriculum, Governance, and Communication

The Massachusetts Association of School Committees defines the roles and responsibilities in their “Charting the Course” offering:

Policy:  The school committee establishes and periodically reviews educational goals and policies for the schools in the district. consistent with the requirements of law and the statewide goals and standards.  This is the primary role of the school committee.

Finance:   The school committee reviews and approves a budget for education in the district according to a process and timeline developed with the superintendent; works to ensure that necessary funds are appropriated for the district. oversees the operation of the annual school budget.

Staffing: Appoints the superintendent; Hires legal counsel. Sets compensation for the superintendent. Prescribes additional qualifications for educator positions beyond basic certification.; Disciplines or terminates employment of the superintendent in accordance with the terms of the contract of employment.

Collective Bargaining:  Acts as employer of the school employees for collective bargaining; designates negotiator or negotiating team and receives advice about educational consequences of bargaining positions.

Performance Standards: Establishesupon the recommendation of the superintendent, the performance standards for teachers and other employees of the ; evaluates the performance of the superintendent; conducts self-evaluation of the committee’s effectiveness in meeting its stated goals and performing its role in public school governance

Professional Development:  Adopts a professional development plan for all principals, teachers and other professional staff;  provides and encourages resources for school committee professional development programs.

School Councils: Reviews and approves an annual school improvement plan for each school in the district; provides and encourages resources for school council professional development programs.

Advocacy: Engages in advocacy on behalf of students and their schools; works closely with other governmental agencies and bodies.

Curriculum: Approves major adoption or revision of curriculum and textbooks upon recommendation of the superintendent.

Governance: Establishes educational goals and policies for schools in the district; delegates to the superintendent the responsibilities for all administrative functions; acts only as a body as prescribed by law and not as individual members.

Communication: Supports the development and promotion of vision, mission, goals and strategies of the school system; consults and confers with the superintendent of on all matters as they arise that concern the school system and on which the school committee may take action; Maintains open communication between community and the schools by scheduling public meetings on a regular basis; supports the superintendent in all matters that conform to committee policy.

So there you have it.  In a nutshell that is it……Pretty daunting scope.