School Council…that mysterious body that has something to do with the running of our school. So what is it? Who’s on it? What does it do? And how can you find out more?
These are all very good questions which, I must confess, I didn’t really know the answer to prior to becoming involved last year. Now that I’ve been a council member for a year, I’m going to try to provide some answers in this blog!
What is a School Council?
Well, it shouldn’t be such a mystery because all government schools in Victoria have a school council. School councils are legal entities, and operate under specific legislation which sets out its functions. These include:
- Establishing the broad direction of the school
- Participating in the development and monitoring of the school’s strategic plan
- Approving the annual budget and monitoring how much money the school is spending
- Developing, reviewing and updating school policies
- Maintaining the school’s grounds and facilities
- Reporting to the school community and Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) every year
- Finding out what the school community thinks and taking into account those views
A school council may also be involved in the selection process for a new Principal, in conjunction with DEECD, and there are also some things that it is not authorised to do; for example, buy land or buildings, or employ permanent teachers.
What does the KPS School Council do?
Well, the whole council meets regularly, on the third Wednesday of each month during the school term. The business covered during meetings can be broad and varied. For example, items discussed at the most recent meeting included:
- The development of a school uniform policy, or dress code
- The removal of the old sandpit, now that the fantastic new sandpit has been installed
- The amount of money available from DEECD for 2013 and the setting of voluntary fees for 2013
- The continuing lack of information available from DEECD in regards to a permanent principal at KPS
- Some of the things that the school needs that could be bought with money raised by the PTA
- The state of the school oval in this dry summer and what is going to be done about it
The school council also has several sub-committees that work alongside the main council. For example, Building and Grounds organises maintenance and a working bee each term to tidy up the school. There’s also a sub-committee for Finance, OSH, Education, Policy and Communications. Each school council member is expected to sit on one sub-committee.
Who is on our School Council?
Each school council in Victoria is made up of parent members, like me, and DEECD employees, the teachers. Legally, there has to be more parents than DEECD employees.
Nominations have just closed for new positions and the council currently has eight parent members, and five teachers.
- Nikki Schwarz
- Dominica Zentner
- Alison Clayton
- Efstathia Alonso
- Jeremy Whelen
- Julie Coleman
- Amanda Aitken
- Emma Rush
- Barry Archibald (Acting Principal)
- Robin Grace (Vice Principal)
- Sally Marsh
- Chelsea Carmichael
- Andrew Wood.
At the next council meeting, the office-bearers (President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer) for 2013 will be chosen. Members of the school community are welcome to attend meetings: just let the office know beforehand, and head to the staff room on the appropriate day!
People often ask me why I became a member of the School Council and it does make me stop and think about why I got involved. It’s a great way to discover how a state school is actually run: to find out how much money the government provides and, consequently, why we can’t afford to do all the things we’d love to do!
I’ve also learned a lot about the many things that need to be done to make KPS the great school it is, and I find it really interesting to be involved in that process and contribute in whatever way I can.
Regular updates from the President (most recently Nikki Schwartz) are included in the school newsletter and you can email Nikki directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question or concern.
The DEECD website has additional information about school councils in Victoria.