District Advisory Councils: What You Need to Know

The Learning Partnership (diagram from provincial government)On November 5, 2015, the province announced significant changes to the way that schools are managed in the province.

One aspect of these changes is the introduction of new Family of Schools District Advisory Councils. The mandate of these councils has been identified by the Minister of Education as follows:

To help shape an education system that is focused on and meets the needs of learners, by advising the Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture on education matters. Students, parents and teachers will have a stronger voice in shaping public policy in education.

Who will be on the councils?

These councils, one per family of schools, will include one representative from each home and school in the family, two students from each high school in the family, and the regional director for the PEI Home and School Federation. Each council will select its own chair.

What will the councils do?

The specific terms of reference for these councils have yet to be released; however the general guidelines that have been released are as follows:

The Minister will receive advice directly from the advisory councils and will consider this information in the setting of goals, standards and priorities to benefit student learning.

The councils will consider a balance between local issues brought forward by council members and topics that the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture is seeking advice on. For example:

  • Student attendance
  • Length / time of school day
  • Rezoning
  • Learner supports
  • Technology in learning
  • Experiential learning opportunities
  • Student transitions from primary to secondary levels

We are assured that this advice will be taken seriously, and that a senior public servant in the Department of Education will be appointed to act as a liaison between councils and the Department.

When do home and schools need to select a representative?

The Minister of Education has requested that home and schools select their representative by December 31, 2015 so that councils can begin to meet early in 2016.

All principals in the English Language School Board schools received a memo from the Deputy Minister of Education on November 26, 2015 asking that they share the memo and attached backgrounder with their home and school and that they pass on the name identified by the home and school.

How should the representative be selected?

We encourage associations to seek nominations for the position from the entire home and school community at your school: parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff, and to either hold a vote (if you have multiple nominations) or a confirmation (if you have only one) at your November or December home and school meeting. 

Please ensure that, however you select your representative, you include details of their selection (mover, seconder, etc.) in the minutes of your home and school meeting.

Note, as well, that although the Deputy Minister's memo was sent to principals with a request to identify the representative, the intention is not that the principal select the representative: this should be done democratically by the entire school community.

Who can the home and school representative be?

The representative does not need to be the president, or a current executive member of the home and school association (although they can be). Schools can select a parent, guardian, teacher, administator or other staff person: any active member of the home and school community at the school.

The PEI Home and School Federation Bylaws have specific information about home and school membership; active members are defined as:

Active membership (voting) in a local Home and School Association shall be open to all parents/guardians of children attending the school and shall be open to all teachers, administrators, and staff employed by the school.

What is the time commitment?

We don't know yet.

We’re told to expect the councils will meet 3 or 4 times yearly. Your representative should be prepared to attend these meetings, to report from of your home and school to the council, to work collaboratively with other council members, and to report back to your local home and school on what is discussed at council meetings.

Where should the name be sent?

Once we've selected the representative, who do we tell?

First, pass the name of the representative to your school principal.

Second, send the name to Adele McLeod in the Department of Education by email to mamcleod@edu.pe.ca or by telephone to (902) 368-4610. Be sure to include the name of the representative and the school you're reporting for.

I need more information!

We’ll have more details about the Family of Schools District Advisory Councils soon; in the meantime, if you have any questions you are encouraged to contact Shirley Jay in the PEIHSF office.

Posted by Peter Rukavina on Thursday, November 26, 2015.