The school council shall:
- meet a minimum of four times per year (all meetings shall be open to the community);
- communicate regularly with parents and other members of the community to seek their views and preferences with regard to matters being addressed by the council, and to report on the activities of the council to the school community; and
- review, annually, its school council constitution and by-laws
Meetings - Key Points
- The school council shall meet at least four times during the school year to discuss and decide on matters that it has the authority to consider. (Reg. 612/12.1)
- A majority of parents must be present to have a duly constituted meeting of the school council (quorum). (Reg.612/12.3)
- Quorum at meetings: A meeting of school council cannot be held unless:
• A majority of the current members are present
• A majority of members present at the meeting are parent members
Without a quorum, issues may be discussed but council cannot consider or approve motions.
- A newly elected school council shall meet within 35 days of the school year on a date set by the principal. (Reg. 612/12.2)
- Each elected member of the school council is entitled to one vote. Principals are not eligible to vote. (Reg. 612/14.2-3)
- All school council meetings shall be open to the public. (Reg. 612/12.4)
Planning an Agenda
A carefully planned agenda is the foundation of a successful meeting. A good agenda briefly outlines what you intend to discuss and in what order. Items on the agenda should reflect the concerns and interests of your school community. The Chair develops the agenda and asks if anyone has items to add at the beginning of the meeting.
The role of the Chair/Co-chair at school council meetings is to:
- determine whether issues will be consultative, advisory or require a school council decision;
- set the climate of the meeting;
- publish a written agenda in consultation with the Principal prior to the meeting date;
- ensure the agenda is approved as the first order of business;
- keep the discussion flowing in a collaborative fashion;
- summarize main points before moving to the next item or before making a decision;
- encourage participation from all members;
- move the meeting along and ensuring no one monopolizes the floor;
- ensure only one subject is discussed at a time;
- acknowledge that each person’s comments contribute to the success of the meeting;
- clarify the results of collaborative discussion and to summarize the actions decided upon;
- mediate during conflict; and
- ensure that the agenda items/discussion is that of a whole school perspective vs. an individual.
Steps in Chairing the Meeting
The formality of the meeting depends on the chairperson, the group’s size and the group’s preference.
- The chairperson calls the meeting to order
- Maintain a speakers list
- Recognize members before they speak (you might want to have name tent cards in front of each member to refer to individuals by their name)
- Each item is entitled to full and free debate by individual members - one at a time;
- Provide opportunity for each person desiring to speak once before anyone speaks for a second time (if the Chair wishes to enter into the discussion he/she will add themselves to the speakers list)
- Ensure motions are dealt with according to the rules of order
- If time does not merit full discussion of an item, the Chair is responsible for bringing a motion to table the item for discussion at another meeting
Rules of Order
“Rules of order” help people work together effectively. They are a tool to be selected by each school council according to its need. It’s important that the school council follow a set of rules, and especially important that the Chair knows the procedure for:
- making a motion;
- notice of motion;
- tabling a motion;
- amending a motion; and
- rejecting a motion.
The following is a simplified guide to rules of order:
Simple Rules of Order
- An individual must be recognized by the Chair before obtaining the floor to make a motion. In plain English, this means the Chair of the meeting must say it is your turn, before you can speak and formally propose a course of action.
- Once an individual has the floor, he or she may make a formal proposal, or motion, beginning with the statement, “I move....”
- Another individual must second the motion, by saying, “I second the motion.” This indicates that he or she agrees that the proposal should be discussed.
- Once a motion is made and seconded, the Chair states the question so everyone is clear on what is being proposed. From this point, until the motion has been voted on, all discussion must focus on the question.
- After stating the question, the Chair asks if the assembly is ready for the question, or ready to vote on the proposal.
- If no one indicates a desire to speak to the issue, the Chair puts the question or conducts the vote by asking for those in favour and those opposed. (The vote may be conducted by a show of hands, by standing or by ballot.)
- If members of the group wish to discuss the motion, the Chair opens debate. Each participant may speak to the question twice, but no one may speak the second time until everyone has had the chance to speak once. Once debate is complete, the Chair puts the question.
- The majority needed to pass the motion should be a majority plus one (i.e., > 50%). In case of a tie, the motion is lost.
Amending a motion
Up until the Chair states the question, the person making the motion may change it, (although the seconder may withdraw and the changed motion may need another seconder.) Once the Chair has stated the question, however, the motion must be formally amended in order to be changed.
- The person making the motion may propose to modify it. The Chair will ask if anyone objects. If they do, the question to modify the motion is put to a vote. If the group consents to the modification, debate continues on the motion as amended.
- Another individual can move to amend the motion by stating, “I move to amend the motion by...”. From here, the process is the same as for any other motion - steps 3 through 8 of Simple Rules of Order section.
- An amendment to the amendment may also be proposed, but a third amendment is out of order.
- After the amendment has been dealt with, discussion returns to the original motion.
Withdrawing a motion
- At any time before a vote, the person making the original motion may ask to withdraw it. The motion to withdraw does not require a seconder. Once the motion is withdrawn, it is as if it never existed.
- If the Chair has already stated the question and a request to withdraw the motion is made, the Chair asks if there is any objection. If there is none, the motion is withdrawn. If someone objects, the request to withdraw the motion is put to a vote.
Tabling a motion
A motion to table a motion means to set it aside to discuss at another time so more pressing business can be discussed, or so more information about the issue can be obtained.
- The motion to table takes precedence over the motion being discussed;
- The motion to table requires a seconder; and
- There can be no debate on a motion to table.
Motions that are Null and Void
Any motion that contradicts provincial laws and regulations or Board policy is out of order, even if the motion was voted on and passed by a majority vote.
The Secretary of the School Council usually records minutes. If the Secretary is absent another member must be appointed to record the minutes. Accurate minutes provide school council members with:
- a clear objective summary of the meeting;
- a historical account of the decisions of the group and the rationale behind them;
- objective comments (vs. opinion);
- highlights, rather than narrative accounts; and
- motions and resolutions recorded verbatim.
Ensure that minutes of meetings are distributed as soon as possible to Council members (electronic or paper copy). Individuals responsible for following up on action items should also receive a copy. Minutes of all meetings of the council should be available at the school. Current minutes may be posted on a bulletin board and/or shared electronically with the community. A system for maintaining past meetings (electronic or binder/file) should be established and made available.
Good record keeping is essential for many reasons:
- Keep a record of council activities and decisions;
- Communication – to those interested who are unable to attend meetings, as well as to future council members; and
- Continuous Improvement – understanding history and successes in the past, will help with future decisions and actions.
School Councils should appoint record keeping accountabilities to one member of the Council (usually the Secretary). Records may include but are not limited to:
- Meeting minutes;
- Action Plans;
- Financial records;
- Activity histories (e.g., School Parent Events records of attendance, supplies required, promotion of event, etc.);
- PIC Representative updates; and/or
- Family of Schools Council update.
School councils may choose to make these records available to their school community via a central area (e.g., Parent Resource Centre in the library).
School Council Constitutional Guidelines
The Halton District School Board requires that all school councils develop a constitution to formalize the operational guidelines for each council. The O. Reg. 612/00, provides minimum requirements in developing the constitution. For more detailed examples of constitution contents, access the Ministry of Education document School Councils: A Guide for Members 2002, revised. The document can be downloaded here.
Each school’s constitution should include guidelines which reflect the school’s unique culture and philosophy.
Constitutions must include: Reference O. Reg. 612/00
- The organization’s name;
- The organization’s philosophy;
- The purpose and objectives of the organization;
- The duties and responsibilities of Members and procedures for electing them;
- The positions (e.g., Chair, Co-chair, secretary, treasurer), terms of office and responsibilities of executive;
- Members and procedures for their election;
- The establishment of roles and of subcommittees;
- The number, scheduling, and quorum equirements of meetings;
- The processes for making decisions, conflict resolution process and dealing with conflicts of interest;
- Financial procedures (e.g., signing authorities) if required (budget);
- The procedures for amending the constitution;
- Processes for communication and accountability; and
- Process for setting goals and measuring effectiveness.
By-laws are the rules that guide how your school council operates.
School councils must establish by-laws that address:
- election procedures and the filling of vacancies in membership;
- conflict of interest rules for members on school councils; and
- internal conflict resolution processes, in accordance with board policies.
By-laws do not need to be created annually, but they should be reviewed.