Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Have you always wondered just what a School Site Council is and does?

Then this workshop from Parents for Public Schools is for you

Please join us for our second workshop in our "Parents Transforming Schools" series titled "Site Council Fundamentals."

Date: Saturday December 4th
Time: 3:00 - 4:30
Location: Ingleside Branch Library
Address: 1298 Ocean Ave. @ Plymouth

We will:

* Discuss the role of School Site Councils in school governance and the role parents play.
* Hear from parents who have been on their school site councils.
* Learn how parents can partner with school staff to make their site councils more effective.
* Explore best practices of what works and how to overcome challenges.
* Discover what you can do to build community support at your school


  1. OK, this is a good thing to inform parents on how to get involved in site governance and to be effective. I would only caution them by saying that in the past I have received a lot of false information from SFPPS about the laws that govern SSCs. I hope they have made a greater effort to educate themselves on the applicable laws.

    Check out EC 52850-82863, especially the first three sections. Also, refer to 64000 and 64001 to understand how the SSC is related to the Single Plan for Student Achievement.

    Some of you may have noticed by now that the District has made changes to their Balanced Scorecard. This was implemented in response to my uniform complaint and appeals to the CDE that highlighted how SFUSD does not provide the public with the necessary information in accordance with law for proper public oversight. In other words, schools can use money without regard for it allocated purpose because no one is on guard to stop it. Principals and their rubberstamp SSCs may use funding to backfill inappropriately. Sometimes the parents don't even know it is unlawful. This is often done to suit the needs of staff more than the needs of students. One example of such activity is the use of Economic Impact Aid - LEP. Though this money is required to be used to service the needs of the targeted ELL students, it is often used to serve other needs. This is misappropriation of public funding.

  2. My first comment was removed I presume because the moderator does not want criticism of SFPPS. I wrote a whole thing about Ed Code and how the PPS is not well informed on it. They have given out bogus information in the past, though some of it is fine. I also commented on how SSC are important in oversight while detailed explanation.

    If you want to remove perfectly civil comment you are not respecting a person efforts or the value of providing an open form.

    Shame on you.

  3. PPS is just as good as the people who support it - and that would be us. We're not talking the federal government or a major think tank here.

    If they're getting something wrong, then offering to help parse the education code is useful. Dismissing a small group of very hard working and dedicated semi-volunteers because their information is off isn't. If the information's bogus, help, don't yell.

    Especially if you're not a member. Have you paid your $20?

    As I've said before, San Francisco is really lucky that we have a PPS chapter at all. I've worked with a school in Los Angeles that was starting up a Mandarin immersion program and I must have started 20 sentences to them "Oh, you need to go to PPS..." only to realize there *is* no PPS there.

    When basically volunteer groups aren't perfect, plunge in and help them. We can all make PPS a better organization.

    As for SSC, it was only via PPS that I even realized what they were and what they do the first time around. For my entire first year at a public school I just thought it was a janitorial thing. Really

  4. Beth,

    I am a PPS member. I walked into a PPS seminar at the last BSC community summit to hear the ED tells a room full of people that SSCs are another advisory committee. That didn't bother anyone because most people don't know the difference between an advisory committee and a committee charged by law to produce an SPSA. Why would they? The district has done precious little to educate the community of their rights even though the receive more than a million dollars a year for that purpose.

    Your point is well taken that we are lucky to have PPS and that it is only as good as its members. The point of my first deleted comment was to make people aware that information is, as you say, only as good as the person delivering it. And that means it can also be woefully inadequate.

    The reason why parents have so little say in school issues is because, aside from electing their BOE members, they don't grasp the idea that SSCs have value when it comes to policy making at schools.

    For example, there is apparently a movement afoot to get rid of honors and AP. SSCs could direct their schools to keep such classes if they so choose. If the Board wants to direct the SSC to redo their SPSA they can, but a revolt among SSCs would be a big deterrent to such action. Anyway, such a stance is not likely to be taken because SSC members don't really understand how categorical and title funding has a requirement to that mandates SSCs decisionmaking.

    The district is supposed to also have a District Advisory Council and a District ELAC that signs off on the consolidated application. When I recently looked at the minutes of those groups' meetings, each had one member. That is not a quorum, but a joke and it is a violation of NCLB/ESEA law.

    PPS does a lot of good work. Highlighting its shortcomings is necessary when appropriate.

  5. Sorry, some of that last comment is not very clear. Most people are not going to know about DACs and the like. The reason for that is SFUSD has never bothered to comply with the law and explain it to them. But other districts do. They even have annual DAC conventions so when I tell the state DAC chairperson about SFUSD, they are dumbfounded. Under the current setup SFUSD has free range to apply Title money without any pesky parents to tell them differently.

    The same basically goes for SSCs.
    Last year the central office directed the principals that there was no requirement to update the BSC. That is a massive violation to do so on a districtwide basis. Then in order to cover their butts they had the principals and SSC chairs sign documents saying they did do it when they absolutely did not. I look at all the public records in this regard. then when I filed a fraud complaint against them they failed to respond to that and now the State's going to have to intervene to get this recalcitrant district to abide by due process.

    Where was SFPPS when the entire district was missing in action on the SSC's main function - to develop and recommend a site plan?

  6. What is an SPSA? I don't really get what a school site council does? Anyone? Don't have time to go to a meeting.

  7. Don, excellent points.
    Actually, someone who knows the ins and outs of the District could do a great service by writing up a clear description of what does what and what all those acronyms mean. And then it could be posted here and on the PPS blog.
    As for the School Site Councils, near as I can tell, they set the budget and the goals for a school. Is that correct? Kind of like the board of directors.

  8. I can try to answer that question. In short, the SSC makes and monitors the school site plan. All schools that receive categorical funding are required to have an SSC, selected by the community, that functions to "develop and recommend" (to the Board) a Single Plan for Student Achievement.

    In the days when most schools had discretionary funding the benefits of community input were easier to understand. Nowadays there is so little funding available many people feel that SSCs are kind of obsolete. There's truth to that, but it is also true that SSC have other purposes than simply to put together the SPSA. They are also supposed to monitor the implementation of the plan. Be a watchdog in effect to make sure that schools are spending for the benefit of student achievement.

    In SFUSD, the site plan doesn't only include categorical funding but most site based funding (not central office expenses). But the California State legal mandate of the SSC only extends to categorical funding.

    Any more on the subject and the reader is likely to fall into a coma.

  9. I went to a Grattan tour this week and it's the first one of about eight in which the principal brought up SSC and the work they've done recently. I wasn't aware that every school had one, though; I'll investigate to find out more. Sorry I missed this PPS meeting today.