View Resource: Renaissance School Advisory Council Guidebook 2013
The SAC Guidebook provides a detailed description about the role of School Advisory Councils (SACs) and detailed guidance about the organization and activities of the SAC. The School District of Philadelphia works with school communities to establish a SAC for every school that is identified as eligible for restart matching. The SAC generally includes between 10 to 20 members of the school community –primarily parents/guardians of current students and representatives from local community groups and school partner organizations. At least 51% of members are parents, and current student are required for high school restarts. The SAC has a range of responsibilities in the restart process. Most importantly, they are responsible for identifying community improvement priorities, evaluating restart operator applications, and making recommendations to the district superintendent about school-operator matches.
Outcomes and Lessons Learned: School Advisory Councils did not exist prior to the launch of the Renaissance Schools initiative in 2010, but have been a consistent part of the restart process from 2010 through 2016. The district invested a significant amount of effort to recruit SAC members, clarify SAC responsibilities, and prepare parents and community members to participate in the process. This SAC Guidebook provides a lot of detail about the roles and responsibilities of school advisory councils, and in turn, the responsibilities of the district and restart operators to engage with SACs. Although the guide provides clarity about roles and responsibilities, it also establishes expectations for the SAC that are not easy to meet. Through the years, the district has not always had the capacity to fully support the SAC activities articulated in the guidebook, and the activities and responsibilities may not always be appropriate for the specific needs of the school. The risk of the publishing a guidebook with this level of detail is that it exposes the authorizer and process to criticism when implementation deviates from the guide.