Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hot topic: Role of the SSC in budget discussion for 09-10

An SF K Files visitor would like to get feedback on the following:
I'd like to suggest a topic for the blog that is really time-sensitive since school budgets are being proposed next week and, I believe, submitted to the district on April 2nd.

While budgets are always in flux to some extent (money for XYZ is gone today, back tomorrow), I'm mostly interested in understanding the role of the SSC, the Principal and parents in the process of evaluating the appropriate allocation of resources for a school. As a parent of a school whose demographic is shifting dramatically due to the introduction of an immersion program, the forces of "old" and the forces of "new" are not entirely in-sync. What is the right approach for parents to make sure their voices are heard? How does the SSC operate in other schools around budget issues?


  1. Umm, what does SSC stand for?

  2. SSC = School Site Council

    I've been an SSC chair or Vice chair for 4 of the 7 years I've been an SFUSD parent. I've found it varies a great deal by principal - and that there is really no district standard (very unfortunately.) I had the great luck to be with a principal who was experience and welcomed parent input the first time around. Budget discussions were very open and collaborative. The process helped parents become better partners and advocates for the teacher and staff perspective, and as a result many of the parents on the SSC helped to educate and enlighten parents who often didn't quite understand some of the more pressing academic needs.

    Subsequent principals took it as a 'staff issue' and provided less opportunity for parent feedback - but for the most part things were already pretty collaborative so it was OK.

    I'm now at a middle school and will be interested to see how this comes back to the SSC. I'll just assume that I will take the same role as in my past experiences - active anyway.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be no SFUSD standard and it too often is left to luck of having a collaborative principal. Also, principals sometimes just get SSC parents to just 'sign here' on a budget they did all by themselves or with a few staff.

    Not really sure what the predominant method/practice is here - will be interested to hear from others on this.

  3. New parents still may not understand what the SSC is. has a good explanation:

    The school site council is a group of teachers, parents, classified employees, and students (at the high school level) that works with the principal to develop, review and evaluate school improvement programs and school budgets. The members of the site council are generally elected by their peers. For example, parents elect the parent representatives and teachers elect teachers.
    The exact duties of school site councils vary from state to state and even between districts in the same state, but site councils generally either make decisions or advise the principal on the school budget and the academic or school improvement plan. In addition to academic planning, many site councils are also responsible for making decisions about parent engagement, safety and discipline.

  4. The SSC should should be reflective of the your school population. Therefore a mix of the "new" and the "old". Remember anyone can bring their suggestions or ideas to a SSC meeting, it is only the members that can vote. If parent's feel their voice is not being heard, they need to show up at a meeting.

  5. The School Site Council has a relatively small range of decision-making powers and budget control. Having been on SSC for many years, I realized how much the district mandates and has decided for each school has so much greater impact on what happens at your school and how your funds are used, than anything you decide on. It is still important to be involved, and help create decisions where you can, but it could be so much more than it is.