Imagine if all schools were required to have a group of families, staff, and community members make decisions about the school. Think about how the school-family dynamic would change: with all voices and viewpoints at the table, the group would be a well-informed, site-specific, and innovative vehicle for school transformation. The School District of Philadelphia recently did just this: School Advisory Councils (SACs) are now mandatory in all schools. This workshop will illustrate how site-based governance bodies like SACs can restore trust between schools and families. Participants will learn about the process of implementing SACs, including the challenges of obtaining buy-in from staff and families alike, communication strategies that promote shared decision-making, and successes from the field that demonstrate the transformative power of site-based governance bodies. Participants will come away with an understanding of how to implement site-based governance bodies in their schools.
Shannon O’Brien spent the 2015-2016 school year studying the existing School Advisory Council program in schools across the School District of Philadelphia. She interviewed families, staff, and administrators about their experience with SACs, held focus groups about SACs, conducted surveys about how to improve the program, and eventually led the team that implemented the new School Advisory Council policy in all schools during the 2016-2017 school year.
Jenna Monley has over ten years of experience in the public education sector as an employee in the School District of Philadelphia. Through her various roles in the District over the past decade, she has gained valuable practice with and perspectives about program development and implementation. In her current role as the Executive Director of the Office of Family and Community Engagement, she utilizes her program development skills to support and create several district-wide programs. In the 2016-2017 school year, she focused on building up the School Advisory Council program.