Purpose of School Community Council                               
School Community Councils are forums for exchanging ideas about how to improve student achievement among the school’s stakeholders: principals, teachers, school staff, parents, students, and community members. 

School Community Councils are a major part of the overall leadership structure at each school. They are a group of people who are elected by their peers to advise the principal on specific matters that affect student achievement and school improvement. Their primary role is to participate in the process that ensures that the needs of all students are specifically addressed in the overall education plan for the school. The Academic and Financial Plan is a document that highlights the goals for the school, the programs, and the available resources to reach these goals.

School Community Councils are forums for open discussion and problem-solving related to student achievement. Recent research suggests that when done well, this process contributes to improved school culture and a strong professional community of educators. In addition, effective decision making supports improved classroom practice and student learning. These results indicate that democratic structures like School Community Councils are integral to school and student success. 

The Hawaii State Board of Education and Hawaii State Department of Education recognize these research findings and have developed policies to support School Community Councils based on three common-sense principles: 
  • Individuals closest to the students should be more involved in making significant decisions affecting the instructional program of the school.
  • A school plan to improve student academic achievement receives more support when people understand and help create that plan.
  • When families participate in a variety of ways in their children’s education, including decision-making, their children and the school are more successful. 
Membership on a School Community Council also benefits the individuals involved. The personal advantages of becoming a School Community Council member include:
  • Learning about educational research and factors that impact student achievement;
  • Being an important partner in the education system, whose views are valued;
  • Contributing to the shared goal of improving student achievement;
  • Having a vehicle through which to express opinions; and
  • Being informed about what is happening at the school. 
Participating on the School Community Council will be a rewarding experience for all those who value the opportunity to make a difference in children’s education.

The Hawaii State Department of Education has learned many valuable lessons from its history with School/Community-Based Management (SCBM) Councils and decision-making. Among the key lessons are:
  • Principals and Complex Area Superintendents (CAS) must actively support School Community Councils by providing the necessary resources to recruit, elect, educate, run, and renew their Councils.
  • School leadership must welcome participation in the process by demonstrating the values and skills that facilitate inclusion of all members.
  • School Community Councils must keep their attention on student achievement by focusing their work on the development, support and monitoring of the school’s Academic and Financial Plan. 
With the federal No Child Left Behind legislation as a focal point, the Hawaii Department of Education is committed to turning these lessons into action and establishing effective School Community Councils. 

This Handbook is one step in putting these lessons into practice. It provides School Community Council members with a tool kit for assessing their skills and finding the resources they need to become effective leaders in improving their schools. 

An eLearning course has also been created to facilitate the understanding of key concepts and the framework for the implementation of the School Community Council. This self-administered course is designated to increase the awareness and understanding of the SCC process and procedures. The eLearning course may be accessed in several ways: