Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Logo
Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)

Guidelines for Board Advisory Councils

February 2014

  1. Purpose: The Board Advisory Councils advise the Board and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board and Department) on matters pertinent to the education program areas they represent.

  2. Mission: The mission of advisory councils is to support the goals and priorities of the Board and the Department. The Commissioner may give a charge to the councils to focus their advisory work on topics that will inform the current work of the Board and the Department.

  3. Size of Councils: Councils will have a maximum of 20 members, with the number to be determined by the Department, except where stipulated by state or federal laws or regulations.

  4. Membership: Advisory council members will be appointed by the Commissioner, on behalf of the Board, for a term of three years. No member will serve on the same council for more than two consecutive terms. Members missing more than two scheduled meetings annually will be deemed to have resigned from the council, unless the absences are due to extenuating circumstances.

    Members serving on councils may include school committee members, school superintendents or charter school leaders, 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 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 and Chapter 379 of the Acts of 2012, An Act Establishing Commonwealth Virtual Schools for more details regarding appointments to councils.

  5. Liaisons: The Department will identify a staff member to serve as the liaison for each 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 Board 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. Council Chairs: The Department administrator to each council will recommend and the Commissioner will appoint a chair or co-chairs for each council. The council may elect a vice-chair.

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

  8. Meeting Agenda, Minutes, and Notices: The council chairs will consult with the liaisons to prepare meeting agendas, as necessary. Council chairs will share meeting agendas, minutes, and meeting notices with advisory council liaisons for posting on the Board advisory council webpage. Chairs 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, in accordance with open meeting laws.

  9. Meeting Locations and Publicity: Meetings will be held at the Department, at public schools, or in other no- facilities determined by council members, to the extent possible. All meeting spaces must be handicapped-accessible. Meeting notices will include the dates, times, and places of meetings, and topics that are expected to be discussed at the meetings. Meeting notices will be posted by the liaison on the Board advisory council webpage at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting by the liaisons. These meetings will be open to the public.

  10. Meeting Minutes: Each council liaison will maintain written minutes of all meetings, including meetings 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 topic; 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 priorities of the Board and the Department for the Commissioner's and Board's consideration. The report will be four 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 Board and Department to consider when making decisions;
    • steps the council has taken and will take to support the goals and priorities of the Board and Department; and
    • recommendations to the Board and Department for future actions.

  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's advisory council or on behalf of the Department or Board on any matter. For additional information, council members may consult the Commissioner's October 9, 2012 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 through the advisory council liaison and administrator.
    • At the discretion of the administrator working with the council or as mandated by enabling legislation, a council may carry out tasks beyond those outlined in these guidelines.
    • See the Guidance on the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law for Advisory Councils to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on other related matters.
    • Written records of meetings and other records made or received by advisory councils are public records that must be made available to the public upon request. Council records must be maintained by the program unit in accordance with state and Department records retention schedules. For more information, liaisons should consult with the Department's legal office.

Last Updated: October 24, 2016

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.