VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta Board of Education recently considered a proposed policy dealing with specific powers of school councils.

As mandated by HB 1190, Valdosta City School System Superintendent Sam Allen said the board was required to develop a policy dealing with the role of a school council in the selection of a school principal.

The proposed policy states that "whenever a vacancy occurs in the position of principal at a school, the superintendent shall consult with the school council as he or she deems appropriate to assist him or her in making a recommendation to the board."

Allen said this is a practice already well-established in the Valdosta City School System. For example, the school council at Valdosta High School recently assisted in the location and hiring of Brett Stanton.

Monday night, Dr. Neil Meyers, District 5, questioned the last sentence of the proposed policy, which states that "a vacancy occurs in the position of principal when the position is to be filled from applications submitted to the district and not from a reassignment of existing personnel."

Allen said this was necessary to avoid forcing school council members to conduct hours of unnecessary work looking at candidates from outside the school system when the promotion of a qualified internal candidate will take care of things. Attempting to clarify things, Jeff Sikes, At-Large, said the sentence was simply the board's way of defining what constitutes a true principal vacancy in the school system.

The A+ Education Reform Act, known as HB 1187, established school councils in Georgia to "bring communities and schools closer together in a spirit of cooperation to solve difficult education problems, improve academic achievement, provide support for teachers and administrators, and bring parents into the school-based decision-making process."

Under HB 1187, school councils provide advice, recommendations, and assistance to principals and local boards of education. The management and control of public schools remains the responsibility of local boards of education. The school council is an advisory body.

According to HB 1190, local boards of education are required to receive and consider all recommendations of a school council.

Another changed centered around meeting frequency. Previously, councils were required to meet monthly. However, HB 1190 changed that requirement to "at least four times a year."

HB 1190 also made a few minor changes in regards to the make-up of a school council. The principal no longer has to serve as chairperson. However, members of the council may select the principal, who is empowered to perform all duties required by law and the bylaws of the council, as chairperson.

Furthermore, the number of allowable members changed from seven to a minimum of seven parents, teachers, and business representatives with HB 1190. If there are more than seven members, the number of parent and teacher members must be equal under the law. The number of business representatives remains unchanged.

Under HB 1187, school councils were comprised of a set number of people -- the principal, two teachers, two parents, and two business representatives.

HB 1190 also allows council members to serve more than one two-year term.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call (229) 244-3400, ext. 255.

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