In terms of school committee duties, I believe that a school committee is the most powerful student group in any school system. That’s why I tend to support efforts to involve more committees in school improvement initiatives. But what I also tend to like is when students get to participate and have authority to do so. I call that participative student power.
For example, in our Public Schools, there are a couple of different groups that represent students and faculty within the school district: the school committee and the select board. A school committee is formed by a parent, and its responsibility is to make school improvements and submit reports to the school board for approval. Most school committee meetings are highly structured and administered by a student body that has no professional experience in school administration. Its job is to go over all those project lists, make decisions, and then present the committee report to the school board for approval. So this group is really exercising very little power.
The select board, on the other hand, is an elite group of people who run many of the major decisions in the school system. A school committee can’t elect the school committee chair, and it doesn’t have much of a say over what gets done in classrooms. The select board actually makes the major decisions about how money is allocated within the school district.
This elitist status of the school board is a major reason that there is so much resistance to their control. But in reality, school districts really need their help to keep their schools running smoothly. They’re overburdened with many responsibilities. They have a lot of students, a lot of teachers, and a lot of parents. If they don’t have effective administrators leading the charge, the school system will fail.
So it’s important for students to get involved with their school committee. It’s also vital that the school committee chair understands the role that he or she plays in maintaining good student relationships. Many school committees go through a lot of conflict because members feel they are not being heard. They want effective communication between the faculty and staff and between students and faculty. They need effective leadership to champion their cause.
The school committee chair also has to make sure that all school funds are properly apportioned. Without this, districts are at risk of closing down. The school committee chair is the person who ensures that the school budget stays on track. In order to do this, the school committee chair must have a broad understanding of school policy and the financial procedures by which funds are allotted and spent within the school district.
It’s also important for school committee duties to be done in an organized and timely manner. Students and parents are tired of seeing the same old committee meetings where many different topics are brought up. It’s important for the school committee to be proactive in ensuring that school policy and procedure are followed when it comes to budgeting for specific services. Also, the school committee must make sure that the school community as a whole is informed and aware of how their school is funding its services. All of these things lead to a successful school district.
It’s easy to see why school committee duties can be so strenuous and why even the simplest tasks can be overwhelming. However, there are resources available to everyone who wants to learn more about school committee duties. For example, local schools themselves offer many informative brochures and websites that explain committee roles and functions. You might also consider taking a basic statistics class in high school or college to gain an understanding of what exactly you will be responsible for when you’re elected to serve on a school committee.