Number and schedule of meetings: A front-end decision about the number and the schedule of meetings will enhance the attendance and participation of council members. Because different schools have different needs and situations, experience has shown it is preferable to allow councils and principals to make their own determinations about the time and frequency of meetings.
Councils have adopted one of two general strategies regarding frequency of meetings:
Some meet on a regular monthly schedule.
Others hold regular meetings at the beginning of the school year and then convene on an "as-needed" basis to ratify and bring closure on the recommendations of smaller subcommittees or working groups of the council. Advocates of this approach maintain that it conserves the time and energy of busy people and avoids meeting "for the sake of meeting.
Agenda: Simple written agendas keep meetings focused and provide continuity from meeting to meeting. When publicly posted, agendas can serve as an invitation for other interested members of the school and community to provide input to the council.
Minutes: Minutes are required by the Open Meeting Law and provide continuity from meeting to meeting. Minutes help to keep the larger school community informed about the activity of the council.
Subcommittees: Subcommittees provide for a division of labor and allow different council members to focus on their areas of interest and expertise.
Council meetings are viewed as problem-solving sessions and not as competitive, win-or-lose events.
All members have a chance to state their views.
Periodic "straw polls" are taken to identify the common ground among divergent viewpoints.
All members are willing to support the majority decision.
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Last Updated: January 27, 1994
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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