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Panel Seeks Governance Councils For Hartford Schools

Governance

By JODIE MOZDZER | The Hartford Courant

January 27, 2009

Plans are moving forward to get parents and community members more involved in running the city's schools.

A committee of parents, board of education members and community members will present a draft policy in February that would establish school governance councils in the district, but it's still not clear which schools will be included.

The plans call for a mix of teachers, parents and community members from each school to serve on a council that would oversee the budget, outreach and direction of the schools. According to the draft, the council would recommend a replacement principal if the school's leader left, would promote the school and would analyze student achievement data.

The full board of education will review the draft at its meeting in February, and the question of which schools to include will likely be clarified then.

The district has pushed for only autonomous schools those that it designated as high achieving or newly redesigned to set up governance councils. But some parents are hoping to see a clause in the policy that would allow all schools to set up a council, even if it is only on an advisory basis.

"Even though it's a low-performing school and it's not autonomous, they can still benefit from it," said Milly Arciniegas, the president of the PTO presidents council.

The committee talked last week about adding wording to the policy that lets non-autonomous schools participate. But those schools must get approval from the central office for many of their decisions, so their councils wouldn't have the same authority.

The district tried to form similar councils in the early 1990s, without success.The draft policy outlines requirements for all governance council members to receive annual training and be absent no more than twice in a row. It makes principals nonvoting members of the councils, with the power to break a tie vote. The principal also would appoint non-parent members of the council and work with the PTO to develop a process for parent members to be elected by their peers.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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