The Illinois legislature has given Local School Council’s the primary responsibility for school governance and improvement under the School Reform Act. The powers and duties of the LSC are described in the CPS LSC handbook called “Chicago Public Schools Office of Local School Council Relations: A Quick Resource Guide for Local School Councils”. The powers and duties, as summarized from this Quick Resource Guide including the following:
Principal Performance Evaluation, Retention and Selection
Annually, the LSC evaluates the performance of the principal. The LSC decides whether to renew the principal’s four-year contract or to hire a different principal at the end of the contract term. If necessary, the LSC selects a new principal for a new contract term or to fill a vacancy. According to Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/34-2.3) the principal evaluations must focus on “(i) student academic improvement, as defined by the school improvement plan, (ii) student absenteeism rates at the school, (iii) instructional leadership, (iv) the effective implementation of programs, policies, or strategies to improve student academic achievement, (v) school management, and (vi) any other factors deemed relevant by the local school council including, without limitation, the principal’s communication skills and ability to create and maintain a student-centered learning environment, to develop opportunities for professional development, and to encourage parental involvement and community partnerships to achieve school improvement.” The LSC may choose to involve people from outside the LSC in some aspects of the evaluation such as gathering information or making recommendations, but only the LSC members may vote to determine the actual evaluation ratings.
Continuous Improvement Work Plan (“CIWP”)
The CIWP document is the blue print for the improvement of the school, and the education of its students. It is an accountability tool for the LSC, the school, and the Illinois State Board of Education. The LSC reviews and improves or asks for amendments to theCIWP and reports progress and problems with respect to its implementation at least twice a year at two well-publicized meetings with the entire school community. The LSC evaluates the allocation of both teaching and non-teaching staff resources, to determine if such allocation is consistent with instructional objectives and school programs as reflected in the CIWP. The CIWP serves as an internal review of progress towards the school’s priority goals.
Budget and Internal Accounts
The LSC approves the School Expenditure Plan prepared by the principal in respect to funds allocated and distributed to the school by the Board of Education. The LSC approves, in accordance with Board of Education policy, receipts and expenditures for internal accounts of the school, and approves all fund-raising activities by non-school organizations (IE: the PTA). The LSC has the responsibility and authority to review, revise and approve the entire school budget; monitor the school spending throughout the year; review, approve and monitor the school’s internal accounts (cash the school gets for student fees, fundraising, vending machines, special events, gifts, etc.); direct the principal to shift expenditures within funds to change how money will be spent, and to close positions and open new ones (to the extent consistent with existing laws and collective bargaining agreements); and to approve amendments to the budget. The LSC has the authority to approve all internal account receipts and expenditures over $1,000 by an affirmative vote of a majority of serving members. The LSC has the authority to review and approve receipts and expenditures for all school internal accounts on a monthly basis. While General Funds, which pay for the school’s basic program, are locked into required teaching, administration and staffing positions, the LSC can recommend that new teachers have certain skills that follow the LSC’s vision for the school and the CIWP, for example teachers with knowledge of technology, the arts, or gifted education.
Curriculum and Textbooks
The LSC makes recommendations to the principal on textbook selection and curriculum, as long as those recommendations are consistent with the curriculum objectives of the Board of Education.
Advising the Principal
The LSC advises the principal concerning the attendance and disciplinary policies of the school (Illinois School Code 105 ILCS 5/34-2.3.6). The LSC makes recommendations to the principal concerning respective appointments of persons to fill any vacant, additional, or newly created positions for teachers or non-teaching staff at the school.
The LSC may adopt a school uniform or dress code policy.
Public Use of School Building
The LSC may grant the use of the school assembly halls and classrooms, when not otherwise needed, for public lectures, concerts and other educational social activities, in compliance with Board rules.
The LSC is to encourage the involvement of additional non-voting members of the school community. Public participation should be encouraged and time should be provided for such participation at each regular LSC meeting. Chicago Board of Education policy specifies that the LSC is responsible for involving the school community in the development of the CIWP. The goal is to have every member of the school community know the priority goals and strategies of the CIWP. The LSC is directed to figure out ways to increase school progress through increased school community partnerships and active parent involvement. See VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES to see our progress
Students With Disabilities and the Least Restrictive Environment
The LSC must review the principal’s report on services to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment.
The LSC must comply with the Illinois Open Meetings Act and the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Closed executive sessions are necessary in some cases, such as when the LSC or its committees are discussing confidential personnel information.