Best Practices

School Council Mandates

What are our Roles & Responsibilities?

School councils play a vital role in the education system in Ontario. They provide a forum through which parents and other members of school communities can contribute to improving student achievement and school performance. In 2000-2001, the Ontario government took significant steps to ensure that parents, through their school councils, would have greater influence in their children’s education. New regulations were created that confirm the advisory role of school councils and clearly state that their purpose is to improve student achievement and enhance the accountability of the education system to parents. Principals and school boards must consult with school councils on a variety of matters that affect student learning. They must also consider recommendations made by school councils and report back to the councils on how they plan to act on their advice.

As a member of school council or as someone interested in joining your school council, the Ontario Ministry of Education provides a very comprehensive resource called:

School Councils: A Guide for Members: This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about the development and core purposes of a school council.


Best Practices:

Best Practices

Organizational Structure Information

The following are membership requirements for your council as mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Refer to School Councils and Parent Involvement Committee Procedure Manual 201-A

Parent members. A parent member is one who is a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the school. (In a school that is established for adults, “parent members” of the school council will be the adult students themselves.) The board or the council must ensure that parent members form the majority of the school council membership. The regulation sets no maximum number of parents on a council; however, the number of parent members on the council should be stipulated by a school council bylaw or by the board if no bylaw exists. A chair or co-chair of a school council must be a parent member of the council.

Board employees and trustees. A board employee who works at the school his or her child attends is not eligible to serve as a parent member on the council. This provision recognizes that board employees have avenues other than school councils (e.g., staff meetings) through which to influence the decisions that the principal might make at their schools, whereas parents who do not work at the school their children attend have no occasion to discuss and  have input into matters affecting the school. A board employee who works at the school his or her child attends may, however, be elected as either the teaching or non-teaching staff representative. Board employees who do not work at the school their children attend may be elected as parent members as long as they notify the other parents that they are employed by the school board prior to their election. The requirement to disclose their affiliation with a board will reduce the potential for conflict of interest. An employee of the board that established a school council cannot serve as the chair or a co-chair of the council. School board trustees are not eligible to be members of councils of schools within their boards.

Community representative(s). The council must appoint at least one community representative, who cannot be an employee at the school. If the community representative is employed elsewhere by the board, he or she must inform other council members of his or her employment prior to appointment.

Student representative(s). In a school with one or more secondary grades, at least one student member, appointed by the student council, must serve on the school council. If there is no student council, the student is to be elected by the student body. In an elementary school, the principal must consult with the school council to determine if the council should include a student. If the decision is made that a student should be on the council, then the
principal can appoint the student. (The principal may consider advice received from students regarding the appointment of a student.) The student representative on the school council of either a secondary or an elementary school must be a student enrolled in the school. Although the regulation requires the inclusion of only one student member on the school council, school council bylaws may provide for additional student representation (provided that parent members still form a majority). As well, students can be included in the committee work of a school council, subject to school council bylaws. Furthermore, since council meetings must be open to the public, interested students are welcome to attend.

School staff representatives. Any teacher in the school is eligible to seek election for the one teacher position on the school council. He or she is to be elected by other teachers in the school. The teacher position cannot be filled by a principal or vice-principal. Any member of the non-teaching staff in the school is eligible to seek election for the one non-teaching staff position on the school council. He or she is to be elected by other non-teaching staff members in the school. A non-teaching staff member is anyone employed at the school who does not have teaching duties, such as a secretary, an educational assistant, a library technician, a member of the custodial staff, or a lunchtime or hallway monitor. Parents working in such a capacity in the school that their children attend may consider running for the position of non-teaching staff representative if they wish to serve on the school council.


Best Practices

Elections & Other Roles

Elections and Term of Office

Ontario Regulation 612/00 also addresses the term of office of school council members and the need for elections to be held annually, within the first thirty calendar days of the start of the school year.

Elections must be held within this timeframe. These changes ensure that any parent who is interested in the school council election process or in participating as a member on the school council has the opportunity to do so. Elections are held at the beginning of the school year to ensure that even parents who are new to the school community, such as those with children just entering Junior or Senior Kindergarten, or those with children just entering secondary school, will be able to participate in the election of their representatives on the school council. This provision also gives them the opportunity to be considered for election as parent members of their school councils.

The regulation has changed the term of office to a one-year term. This enables members to consider, on an ongoing basis, their involvement on their school councils. Should they find a change in their personal situations or circumstances, they may find that they are no longer able to continue with the commitment they made. The one-year term also allows parents to make decisions on a regular basis about how their interests and priorities are represented at the school. It is important to note, however, that the regulation does not restrict the number of times that a member can be re-elected.

Other School Positions

  • School councils can also modify their by-laws as it pertains to terms of office.  Successful School councils are those that are able to ensure a simple and positive transition from one year to the next.
  • Some school councils have moved their elections to June in order to allow a smooth transition between council members.  These same councils have modified their membership regulations ensuring that the Chair must be on council for a minimum of one year.
  • Other Councils have created a past chair position to ensure there is a smooth transition between chairs. Simply ensure you have the best council structure for your individual school environment.


Best Practices

Job Descriptions

One of the best solutions to ensuring volunteers taking on key roles is to provide job descriptions.  These are only suggestions and we encourage you to adapt these for your own school.  Remember, the number one reason volunteers don’t raise their hands is because they don’t know what is expected.

Chair / Co–Chairs  

  • Prepare agenda in consultation with Principal and Council members
  • Chair School Council Meetings
  • Lead and assist Subcommittee Chairs with projects and documentation
  • Consult weekly with Principal
  • Ensure all School Generated Funds revenues and expenses comply with Board policy and the School Generated Funds Condensed Guide for School Council
  • Oversee & lead council initiatives and activities, ensuring compliance with Board policies
  • Responsible for volunteer recruitment and parent/guardian communication
  • Responsible for the approval and distribution/communication of the annual School Council Financial Reports and monthly financial documentation (HST Rebate Claim, Bank Reconciliation, Interim Year End Financial Report)
  • Responsible to complete all annual reports, community requests and board documentation
  • Responsible for overseeing executive and ultimately responsible to assume roles that are not filled on the executive.
  • attend and participate in information and training programs and consult with board staff and trustees as required
  • Responsible to lead the General Fundraising Sub-Committee if a parent member is not available

Vice-Chair – Optional

  • Assumes duties of the Chair in his/her absence
  • Responsible to lead the Educational Sub-Committee if a parent member is not available
  • Assist Chair in executing responsibilities


  • Collaborate with Chair and Sub Committee Chairs to prepare monthly information for the school newsletter – Responsible for execution of the Newsletter Copy
  • Record minutes at the school council meetings and distribute to council members
  • Assist with documentation development (Parent / Guardian ) and communication
  • Responsible for development and execution of all Council Correspondence
  • Place master copy of all meeting documents in School Council binder
  • Arrange for an executive member to record minutes in his/her absence at a meeting
  • Responsible for web communication and updates


  • Prepare a preliminary budget with executive and administration for the second council meeting
  • Responsible for providing “Revenue” project results to Council and Secretary
  • Responsible for monthly presentations outlining spend and revenue forecast for council.
  • Collect, count and deposit all money made through fundraising
  • Pay all bills/invoices and prepare the monthly reconciliation
  • Prepare the annual School Council Financial Report and submit to the Chair for review and approval
  • Prepare Reports: HST Rebate Claim, Bank Reconciliation, Interim Year End Financial Report

Community Representative – Maximum of 1 Member

  • Required to attend a minimum of 6 meetings
  • Required to join a Sub Committee
  • Volunteer time
  • Participate in Council Meetings

Student Representative – Maximum of 1 Member (Grade 8 Student)

  • Required to attend a minimum of 6 meetings
  • Required to join a Sub Committee
  • Volunteer time
  • Participate in Council Meetings

General Parent Member – Maximum of 15 Members

  • Required to attend a minimum of 6 meetings
  • Required to join a Sub Committee
  • Volunteer time
  • Participate in Council Meetings

Other Potential Positions

  • Past Chair Member
  • Events Chair – BBQ, Special Events
  • Fundraising Chair


Best Practices

Parent Communication

Communication Is the Key

Communication is the key to ensuring strong partnerships and a successful school council. It is crucial to achieving increased involvement and greater influence for parents in their children’s education. School councils must have sound methods of communicating with the school principal, with the school board, with parents, and with each other.

The school council’s communication strategy should also include an effective method of communicating with the school community on a regular basis. This process should in time become routine. Many channels of communication are required to ensure that your school council functions effectively.

Developing a Communication Plan

One of your council’s first tasks might be to develop a communication plan. To do so, you should consider the following:

  • the audience with whom you need to communicate
  • issues requiring broad school-community consultation
  • the various communication strategies and processes that you can use
  • individuals responsible for developing the plan
  • timelines
  • ways of dealing with feedback from the community

Consider the Following Ideas on how you can communicate:

  • setting up a school council information table on parent-teacher interview nights
  • sending students home with a newsletter
  • posting the council’s meeting minutes on the school’s website;
  • hosting special events that bring the school community into the school;
  • making use of regular mailings, such as the mailing of report cards, to include a school council update, a list of the council’s activities for the year, or the school council’s meeting minutes;
  • having the chair/co-chairs speak at various school functions;
  • making personal contact with parents by phone or at special meetings;
  • setting up a school council display in the main foyer of the school;
  • making use of public service announcements and other forms of free radio, TV, and newspaper advertising;
  • posting notices in local churches and community halls.

Things to consider when building out your communication plan:

In choosing communication strategies, your council should consider their effectiveness and appropriateness for parents from diverse backgrounds and for the audiences within your community. For example, to assess the audience you wish to reach, you might begin by asking questions like the following:

  • Who needs to know this? Which groups or communities need to be informed?
  • With whom are we communicating already?
  • Is the school reaching everyone it should?
  • What organizations should we be reaching?

Finally, you might determine how to deliver the messages you wish to communicate to your intended audience by asking questions such as the following:

  • What is the best way and time to communicate?
  • How are we currently exchanging information with the different groups in the school community?
  • How can we assess the effectiveness of our current communication strategies?
  • What communication efforts are working? Are not working?
  • Are the messages designed to suit different audiences?
  • Do we promote two-way communication?
  • How will we know that the message has been received?

The public learns about schools through the following sources:

  • local newspapers
  • conversations with friends and neighbours
  • radio, television, or the Internet
  • school newsletters
  • conversations with students
  • service clubs and business associations
  • personal friendships with educators in the district
  • personal visits to schools


WEB Communication

  • In the first three months, we will have a new website format which will allow the Council to take an active role in informing parents of the activities taking place in their community.
  • Council Information
    • Project Information – Objectives & Goals
    • Parent Information – New Curriculum, Changes etc.
    • Special Announcements
    • Sponsorship & Partnership Thanks

Monthly E- Newsletter

  • Each Month the Secretary will send out an email Newsletter to parents (registered) to receive the email identifying all the new campaigns, interesting facts and providing insights and seeking feedback.
    • Parent Email Recruitment Campaign (First week of School)
      Database allows better communication with parents and ensures they are
      receiving this important information.
    • Constant Contact – Newsletter Template
    • Survey Monkey – Parent Surveys


One to One Parent Communication

  • Twice a year the Council will send a quick communication to parents letting them know about special meetings and events that the Parent Council will be on hand for to answer any questions or concerns.
    • Chair to attend Parent Night and Meet the Teacher Night


School Bulletin Board

  • The main Bulletin Billboard at the front of the school will now become the School Council Billboard and it can be used to promote events, information to the entire school community. The Secretary on Council will work with School Secretary to ensure that accurate information is posted and space is always available to communicate major initiatives.


Best Practices

Agenda & Minutes Templates

Creating an Agenda
A carefully planned and organized agenda is key to a successful meeting. A good agenda briefly outlines what you intend to discuss and in what order. A reasonable time frame, which allows sufficient time for discussion of all the agenda items, should be allotted. The items on the agenda should reflect the priorities of the school council, which should reflect the concerns and interests of the school community.  The task of developing the school council meeting agenda is usually the responsibility of the chair/co-chairs. Additional agenda items may be submitted by other council members and the principal.

When developing an agenda, be sure to:

  • provide a place on the agenda for welcoming guests and introducing new people and non-members;
  • review the minutes of the previous meeting and include items that need revisiting (“business arising from the minutes”);
  • determine if there is any “old business” or updates that should be included;
  • include time for committee reports;
  • determine what “new business” should come before the council;
  • include time for brief reports from the principal and student, staff, and community representatives;
  • include a period of time for general questions

Here are two different types of Agenda for your School Council

The first is a traditional example of a school council agenda with the meeting centering around the entire time line.


The second example is built on the premise that parents and volunteers only have a certain amount of time to meet and plan activities.  This agenda, requires all reports to be submitted early, sent out with the agenda, ensuring all members pre-read the recommendations of the committees allowing for time for the committees to work at the meeting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
6:45pm (Library)

1)    Welcome All Parents
2)    Chair Report – 10 Min.

3)    School Report – 15 Min.

  • Principal (Report)
  • Teacher (Report)

4)    Sub Committee Reports – 15 Min.

  • Educational Initiatives – Report
  • Events & Programs – Report
  • General Fundraising – Report

5)    Open Discussion – Visitors & Member Requests – 5 Min.

6)    Committee Planning – 30 – 45 Min.



Best Practices

Establishing By-Laws

School councils are not required to develop lengthy constitutions, since Ontario Regulation 612/00 sets out the mandate and roles and responsibilities for school councils. In effect, the regulation serves as the constitution for the school council. (If a school council already has a constitution in place, the council may wish to continue to use it, provided that it does not conflict with the provisions of the regulation.)

Similarly, in the presence of the regulation, boards are not required to develop policies on school councils, except for policies dealing with the reimbursement of expenses incurred by members and officers of school councils while conducting council business, policies on fund-raising, and policies that address the resolution of internal conflict on a school council.

Boards are, however, required to consult with school councils when developing these policies. While boards may want to facilitate the work of councils that are developing the required school council bylaws, they are not required to do so. School councils must develop certain bylaws to provide them with direction for the operation of council business and to help the council work effectively. The development of operating bylaws should begin as soon as possible after a council meets for the first time. At a minimum, the regulation requires councils to develop bylaws to address the following areas:

  • election procedures
  • filling vacancies
  • conflict of interest
  • conflict resolution procedures

Example of Bylaws:

Link to Aberfoyle By-Laws

For more information on By-Laws see this link on Parents Engaged in Education