Hartford led CT in the establishment of School Governance Councils (SGCs) a few years back but that early energy appears to be flagging.  At the District’s annual SGC forum this week, the latest data showed just 18 of 47 schools met the standards for membership compliance, reverting back to the 2012-13 level.

SGCs are designed to have 14 members, including seven parents, five teachers, two community members and two non-voting student members as they act in an advisory capacity to school principals on the budget and on ways to improve student learning.

As of May 23rd, 23 of Hartford’s schools had met that seven-member parent threshold; 39 schools’ SGCs had the required number of teachers participating.  Here are the Board policy and State law detailing the structure and duties of SGCs – and here is our own 2011 evaluation of SGCs.

Tuesday’s forum at the Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School featured a panel discussion moderated by Hartford Board of Education Member Tiffany Glanville [the video of that forum is online here].  A discussion of the budget challenges is at the 29:14 mark, where the flat funding for the past eight years amidst rising costs is highlighted.

Burns Latino Studies Academy Parent and SGC Chair Julio Flores offered on-the-ground views about budgeting and the associated parent education needed as well as the cultural impact of non-English speaking parents on meeting effectiveness and dissemination (at the 34:08 mark of the video). It bears mentioning that Mr. Flores has been nominated by the mayor to serve on the Hartford Board of Education, with City Council deliberations scheduled for next week.

As well, Community Representative Donna Sodipo of the Journalism and Media Magnet Academy SGC described how an organized approach to SGC meetings can serve to empower parents (at the 39:18 mark of the video).  As CPBN’s senior vice president of education, Ms. Sodipo explained her partnership role as it relates to heightening parent development in ways that stimulate their involvement in truly addressing school issues.

All in all, the importance of the SGC work – and the issues that constrain it – were candidly explored at the forum, which Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez summarized (at the 1:18:47 mark of the video).  Framing the challenge facing SGCs, she asked a salient question: “How do we move from a focus on compliance to competence to excellence?”  It’s a good question.