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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Guidelines for Advisory Councils

October 2011

  1. Purpose: Advisory councils are appointed for the purpose of advising the Commissioner and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on matters pertinent to the implementation of Education Reform in the Commonwealth and to provide programmatic recommendations, as councils deem necessary, to accomplish the goals established by the Board and the Department or to meet federal or state requirements.

  2. Mission: The mission of advisory councils is to support the goals, initiatives, and policies of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department. The Commissioner may give a charge to the councils to focus their advisory work in particular areas that will inform the work of the Board and the Department.

  3. Size of Councils: Councils will have a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 25 members, with the number to be determined by the Department, except where stipulated by statute (G.L. c. 15, § 1G).

  4. Membership: Advisory council members will be appointed for a term of three years. No member will serve on the same council for more than two consecutive terms, and a member may not serve on more than one council simultaneously. Members missing more than 3 scheduled meetings annually will be deemed to have resigned from the council, unless the absences are due to extenuating circumstances.

    For councils established by the Education Reform Act of 1993, the Commissioner recommends to the Board appointment of new members and reappointment of members seeking a second term. The Commissioner will announce council vacancies annually.

    Members serving on councils may include school committee members, school superintendents, professional educators, parents or students, and other community members who have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to excellence in education in addition to content experience and expertise specific to the interest of the advisory council. The councils should also have a reasonable balance of members representing business, labor, civic, educational, parental and professional groups, striving for diversity and geographic balance. See G.L. c. 15, § 1G for more details regarding appointments to councils.

  5. Liaisons: The Department administrator of a unit related to the work or purpose of each advisory council will identify a staff member to serve as the liaison for that council. The liaison works on the Department's behalf to facilitate communications between the advisory council and the Department, and posts council meeting schedules and other information on the advisory council web page. The liaison attends each meeting of the advisory council. Unless required by law, liaisons do not serve as members of the councils and are not staff to the councils.

  6. Chairpeople: The Department administrator to each council will recommend and the Commissioner will appoint a chairperson or co-chairpeople for each council, with the approval of the Board. The council may elect a vice-chairperson.

  7. Number of Council Meetings: A Department administrator and liaison work with each council chairperson in scheduling the council meetings as necessary, generally no more than four meetings per year, depending on the needs and business of the council.

  8. Meeting Agenda, Minutes, and Notices: The council chairpeople will consult with the liaison to prepare meeting agendas, as necessary. Chairpeople will share meeting agendas, minutes, and meeting notices with the advisory council liaison for posting on the council's webpage. Chairpeople may share meeting agendas, minutes, and notices with advisory council members via telephone, email, or fax. No official business of the council may take place outside of a scheduled meeting, notice of which has been properly posted.

  9. Meeting Locations and Publicity: Meetings will be held at the Department, at public schools, or in other no-cost handicapped-accessible facilities determined by council members, to the extent possible. Meeting notices will include the dates, times, and places of meetings, and a list of topics that is expected to be discussed at the meetings. Meeting notices will be posted on the Department's web site at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting by the liaison. These meetings will be open to the public.

  10. Meeting Minutes: Each council will maintain written minutes of all meetings, including meeting of subcommittees. The minutes should state the date, time, and place of the meeting; list the members present and absent; summarize the discussion on each subject; describe decisions made and actions taken, including a record of all votes; and list the documents and other exhibits used at the meeting. Minutes will be created and approved in a timely manner.

  11. Annual Report: By June 30 of each year, each council will prepare and submit to the Commissioner a brief report on current issues in the council's field that are relevant to the goals and objectives of the Board and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the Commissioner's consideration in preparing strategic initiatives. The report will be five pages or less in a format determined by the Department. The report will include information related to the charge presented by the Commissioner, and other information such as
    • Current issues in the field that the council believes are important for the Commissioner to consider when making decisions;
    • Steps the council has taken and will take to support the goals and objectives of the Board and Department;
    • Opinions on policy decisions or actions taken by the Board and/or Department; and
    • Recommendations to the Commissioner for future action or for new goals or objectives in the strategic plan.

  12. Meeting and Travel Expenses: The Department has limited resources to provide travel expense reimbursement for council members. Liaisons should check with the Department's budget office before making any commitments on funding or reimbursement.

  13. Legislation: Councils may not file legislation, take positions on legislation, or lobby the legislature in the name of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's advisory council or on behalf of the Department or Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on any matter. For additional information, council members may consult the Commissioner's October 25, 2011 memorandum on the Board's and Department's policy regarding communication with the legislature.

  14. Additional Guidance:
    • Any written communication from councils or council members to the Board is to be presented first to the Commissioner.
    • At the discretion of the administrator working with the council and within the limits of the availability of the liaison, or as mandated by enabling legislation, a council may carry out tasks beyond those outlined in these guidelines.
    • Council members may not participate in a meeting via telephone or video conference.
    • Written records of meetings, and other records made or received advisory councils, are public records that must be made available to the public upon request. Council records must be maintained in accordance with state and Department records retention schedules. For more information, liaisons should consult with the Department's legal office.

Last Updated: November 3, 2011
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