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School site councils are a district's ‘guiding force'

November 28, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a small army to run the schools.

Nowhere is this team effort more evident than in public schools' school site councils.

Composed of parents, administrators, teachers and classified staff, school site councils are responsible for developing comprehensive school plans, allocating certain monies for school use and amending each site's safe school plan. At the junior high and high school levels, students are included as members.

Mulberry School District Superintendent Sue Hess said she sees school site councils serving a dual purpose for parents.

"They are a vehicle by which the school provides accurate information to the parent community," Hess said.

Not only are the councils a good way to get out information, they bring information in by allowing parents to have a voice on issues such as how resources are spent, Hess said.

Having a voice was one of the reasons Margo Havens, a parent of a student at El Centro's McKinley Elementary School, ran for a seat on that school's site council.

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"I wanted to know what's going on and have a say. I wanted to know where the money is going," Havens said.

"If you don't ask, you don't know," Havens said.

Havens and several other site council members from throughout the El Centro Elementary School District attended a member training session hosted by the district Tuesday night.

The training sessions, which happen in all districts, give participants an overview of school site council and their responsibilities as members.

El Centro Elementary School District, for one, strongly encourages new members to attend training, though it is open to all members, said Renato Montaño, district program support coordinator.

Members provide an invaluable service to their sites.

Certain monies received by schools come with stipulations that parental and community input be considered in deciding how those funds are spent. The use of other monies, such as the Governor's Performance Award program based on Academic Performance Index results, is decided by the school site council.

"They (school site councils) are like a guiding force," said Celia Santana, principal of Brawley's Miguel Hidalgo School.

"They are very aware of our test scores. They support the academics at our school. They know what needs they can help fund," Santana said.

The bottom line is improving student achievement.

"I emphasize that they're here to help us improve the quality of our instructional programs," said Calexico's Rockwood Elementary School Principal Fernando Caloca Jr.

The council is also a good way to involve parents in their child's school, Caloca said. Half of school site council members must be parents.

It's an opportunity many are eager to take.

McKinley site council parent member Gloria Aguilar summed up her involvement easily.

"I wanted to make a difference in the school for my daughter," Aguilar said.

>> Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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