On October 8, 2014 the OUSD Board of Education unanimously adopted school governance administrative regulations that make much-needed progress toward strengthening and sustaining the effective participation of School Site Councils (SSCs) in decision making at their schools. The school governance regulations come at a critical juncture: a change of resource allocation from the state (Local Control Funding Formula), which requires schools to focus on outcomes for students who are low-income, English Learners or in foster care.

SSCs are responsible for:
• advising on the annual development of a site’s community school strategic site plan to improve student academic and social outcomes, and
• ensuring that the school budget is aligned with the site plan. The focus of the site plan is on continuous improvement for all students, including those with poorer outcomes than their peers.

Site plans are developed by:
• reviewing and analyzing student data,
• asking and answering critical questions related to the effectiveness of the school’s program strategies,
• establishing student outcome goals and benchmarks, and
• developing a theory of action based on achieving specific student goals.

You are not off the mark if that sounds like a lot of work. SSCs are composed of parents, teachers, school staff, students (at the secondary level), community members, and the principal, all of whom are expected to review and analyze data, outcomes, program strategies and effective practices to answer the crucial question: How can we best serve the students at our school? For many years, some SSCs have done this work collaboratively and effectively, while others lacked the capacity or information to address crucial aspects of the decision making process.

By adopting the site governance regulations, the Board has committed the District to bringing all SSCs up to the same standard of performance through training, capacity building and technical assistance. The Board has adopted a document that identifies everyone’s roles and responsibilities in supporting this crucial decision making for our children, from the Superintendent to the Central Office to the principal. As a speaker at the Board meeting put it the other night, the site governance regulations “represent for us effectively restoring aspiration of full participation of teachers, administrators, students, families and community for the good of our students.”

Some of the capacity building work has already begun: The District has for the first time established a cross-department team to provide consistent support and instruction to SSCs. The Office of Student, Family and Community Engagement has intensified its focus on building parent and student capacity for collaborative participation on SSCs and other school and District advisory bodies.

The development of the regulations was a long, engagement-rich process: Urban Strategies Council and OUSD co-convened the Task Force that developed draft regulations over five months, then revised them based on an additional five months of feedback from District leadership and school stakeholder groups before presenting them to the Board for adoption. We urge school community members to understand the District’s commitment to collaborative SSC participation and decision making by becoming familiar with the full School Governance Administrative Regulations and accompanying SSC Procedures and Resource Guide so that you know how site governance should be working for everyone at your school.