School community council training guides stewardship over student fundingOct 27, 2016 04:51PM ● By Rubina Halwani
Community Engagement Coordinator Susan Edwards and Nancy Tingey, vice president of the Canyons School District Board of Education, lead parents in a mock school community council workshop. (Rubina Halwani/City Journals)
By Rubina Halwani | [email protected]
Over 40 newly elected members participated in the Canyons School District School Community Council training in late September. This was the first of three available training sessions. Susan Edwards, community engagement coordinator, and Nancy Tingey, vice president of the Canyons School District Board of Education, developed and led the training.
“School community councils were established as the place for School LAND Trust dollars to be distributed to make the greatest academic impact for students,” Edwards said.
The School LAND Trust is a permanent funding resource for public schools. Council members act as stewards over the funds and direct allocation toward school improvement programs. By law, every public school in Utah must have its own school community council.
School community council members are selected by an election process, held annually, and serve for one academic year. Parents in the community elect parent members and teachers elect fellow teachers as representatives. The council also includes the school principal.
“One of the great points about LAND Trust distribution and the work of the councils is that it is the only money given directly to parents, teachers and administration of any given school, hence why it should be valued and protected by allocating it with integrity and a singular eye towards academic achievement,” Edwards said.
The trust, developed at statehood in 1894, grants four square miles per town in Utah. This totals 3.4 million acres of land. There is currently over $2 billion in the fund, with an average of $73 dollars per-pupil distribution per year.
Challenges to the management of the trust fund include political pressure to use the funds in other ways, its high dependency on gas, proper uses of technological advances and potential mismanagement of land.
Edwards highlighted four factors for successful school community council operation: being well informed, commitment, research and compliance.
“The law and rules set up to govern SCCs and the distribution of the LAND Trust Fund are structured extremely well and provide for good governance,” Edwards said.
Council members are expected to meet regularly throughout the academic year and communicate with their school community.
Edwards also explained fundamental differences between school community councils to PTAs. Mainly, while PTA groups are voluntary, every public school in Utah is required by law to have a school community council.
Tingey led the workshop portion of the training session. She enjoyed seeing members “coming together, creating plans, putting plans into action and seeing those results.”