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Parents Working Together to Shape Education in Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) ASCA School Councils Connection Conference 08 Saturday, April 26, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Parents Working Together to Shape Education in Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) ASCA School Councils Connection Conference 08 Saturday, April 26, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Parents Working Together to Shape Education in Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) ASCA School Councils Connection Conference 08 Saturday, April 26, 2008

2 History of COSC Elk Island Public Schools established the Committee of School Councils (COSC) in 1988 to: –provide a forum for discussion among trustees, senior administrators, and parents (school council representatives) from across the division; and –provide opportunities to voice concerns and give input on educational issues.

3 WHAT is the COSC? The purpose of COSC is to: –facilitate cooperation and partnership among school councils; –create a positive learning environment for EIPS’ students; and –enrich individual schools and the division as a whole.

4 WHO belongs to COSC? COSC is comprised of: –individual school council representatives from all EIPS’ schools, –the Board of Trustees, and –representatives from EIPS’ senior administration and central services.

5 WHY was COSC formed? COSC was formed to: –provide parents with the opportunity to voice concerns; and –allow opportunities to have input on a variety of educational issues in the district.

6 WHAT is the purpose of COSC? The purpose of COSC is: –to provide a forum for discussing educational issues and matters of common importance to schools. the powerful group voice that is realized through COSC strengthens the division and plays an important role in educational advocacy. Meetings provide an opportunity for participants to: share common interests; learn about what is happening throughout the school division; celebrate a school’s achievements and successes; and develop relationships with other school council representatives and district personnel.

7 WHAT is the purpose of COSC? (cont.) In an environment of trust and cooperation, school council representatives will have the opportunity to: –share opinions; –voice concerns; and –provide input to influence decisions regarding policies, procedures, and educational issues in the district.

8 WHAT are the group’s goals? The goals for COSC include: –promotion of EIPS and its schools; –addressing issues; –sharing information; –encouraging participation; –providing advice to the Board and the Government of Alberta on education matters; –enhancing communication amongst school councils, the Board and the community; and –providing input on Board policy and practices.

9 WHY should your school board have a COSC? The benefits of COSC –The opportunity for school council representatives to be involved and influence the decision-making process. –Participate in open and honest dialogue with senior administration and school board members. –Many viewpoints are brought to the table and discussed, creating awareness and understanding about school-specific issues and challenges. –Communication and feedback loops are created to receive information about new initiatives and changes. –Members gain an understanding of the education system. –Development of a knowledge base among parents. –Creation of a sense of community as a district.

10 HOW to establish a COSC in your area School Board initiated: The school board requests an initial meeting by inviting participation from each school council. The Board and the school council representatives determine a set of procedures (policy), i.e. how often the meetings will be held, who will Chair, how the Chair is selected, what the agenda should be, etc.

11 HOW to establish a COSC in your area (cont’d) School Council initiated: One or more school councils asks the Board for a district-wide meeting. School council representatives invite other councils to participate by sending representatives. School board representatives and school council representatives establish the procedures (policy) for future meetings ie. who will call meetings, when they will happen, what the agenda topics should be, etc.

12 Policy EIPS’ Policy –EIPS’ Policy BCFDD – Committee of School Councils Roles and Responsibilities directs and guides COSC meetings. –EIPS established the policy to set guidelines concerning the relationship with COSC. A secondary policy, Policy BCFD – School Councils Roles and Responsibilities also outlines how school councils can participate as active partners in the operation of their school. –All policies can be found online at in the Division, Policy Handbook

13 Getting people to attend meetings To start the year off: Letter of invitation from Superintendent is sent out in September. COSC promotional pamphlet is sent out in September. Maintaining the attendance through the year: Make meetings meaningful by creating an environment of respectful participation where people are heard. Participants assist in shaping the agenda. That information shared is relevant to the participants and is provided in a timely manner.

14 Setting the agenda Call for agenda items at the beginning of the year –A collaborative process Ask school council representatives what topics they may be interested in learning more about; Involve district administrators; ask what new programs and initiatives parents may want to know about; Participants may make additions to the agenda at the beginning of meetings, or request future agenda topics; Announcements from Alberta Education are added as necessary.

15 Conducting business & meetings Meetings are chaired by an elected school council representative. Meetings are coordinated between the COSC Chair and the Director, Communication Services. The Chair of the Board of Trustees provides a Board report at each meeting. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month. Meetings last approximately 1 ½ hours. We send out information to members between meetings through our email distribution and post information on the website.

16 Topics covered at COSC in EIPS Local Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) projects Annual operating budget for the division Appeals process Student assessment and achievement New projects and initiatives Department-specific information (Student Transportation, Facility Services, etc.) Policy changes/development Opportunities for parent involvement on committees, etc. School issues District Education Plan

17 Using technology to your benefit Videoconferencing Technology –Hosting meetings in “remote sites” improves participation in EIPS by eliminating the need to travel long distances. Email Distribution –Distribution of Board Highlights; News Releases; and Recruiting volunteers to participate on district committees. Website Posting –Minutes; Agendas; Handouts, Presentations; and Policy circulation.

18 Communication, communication, communication Open and honest sharing of information including –School council representatives have the opportunity to: Hear about new initiatives and important changes in the education system; Participate in meaningful dialogue with trustees and senior administration; and Voice concerns in an environment of mutual respect.

19 It’s all about relationships Participation in COSC helps to build relationships and shared understanding among: –School council representatives, senior administration, trustees, and community members. –Realization and understanding that COSC participants are all members of the same team working together to achieve a common goal: supporting students and learning in EIPS

20 Questions?

21 Thank you Elk Island Public Schools –683 Wye Road Sherwood Park, AB T8B 1N2 Phone 780 464 3477 Fax 780 417 8181 Email –This presentation is available in the COSC section on the EIPS’ website. –

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