Site Council is South High’s site for change


B Fei

Karen Holly and Arthur French at the first Site Council meeting on September 27, 2018. Photo Credit: B Fei

B Fei, Staff Writer

In an isolated conference room just across from the main office, many students, parents, and teachers are holding discussions that may determine the direction of South High School’s development. This cohort is known as the Site Council, which is a mandated program for every school in the Minneapolis Public Schools district oriented around creating a line of communication between the administration and those who the school serves.

September 27 was the first meeting for this year’s Site Council, which introduced the who-what-when-where-why of the program to both new and old South High School parents who are looking to participate this year.

They discussed school updates regarding how the start of school went, how the field renovation is going, and what the current plan for school development is.

The Site Council is an initiative that was adopted in the December of 2015 by Minneapolis Public Schools as a way to ensure that administrative faculty are fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to the satisfaction of district standards and the students they serve.

According to the bylaws—another word for regulation—the Site Council has jurisdiction to discuss the School Improvement Plan, the annual budget and its allocation, and many other issues affecting the school community, such as the open campus policy and the usefulness of student lockers.

“That’s what the district is expecting out of our Site Council,” Holly said. “All schools have a Site Council, and they all have to follow those certain guidelines.”

The Site Council is also a policymaking body that can determine the direction of discussed matters through a democratic voting process with proper compliance to school, state, and federal laws and policies. The district hopes that parents can be involved in the sweeping decisions that affect their children by creating a space for them to set the tone of discussion and deliberation.

This provides an opportunity for students, parents, and teachers to voice their experiences at South High School while simultaneously engaging in a process that can translate their concerns into transformative change for the administration.

Using last year’s budget cuts and South High School’s ongoing debt as an example, many students and teachers are presently concerned about the funding decisions that are being made by the school and the district. Through Site Council, the community can address the resource disparities in their classrooms and direct the administration on how to better provide educational opportunities to their students.

Although the Site Council has existed for several years since the passage of the bylaws, it has received little attention among students, especially those who have been vocal about their concerns regarding the school. According to the archived notes on the South High School website, Site Council turnout has hardly breached a dozen participants.

South High School teacher and Site Council member Arthur French urges more people join the Site Council, specifically those from different places in the community. “I encourage people to come listen, ask questions, and participate,” French said. “The world is run by those who show up.”

French provided several ideas for who could show up to the discussion, including team captains from various sports teams, Student Council members, construction workers from the field, and security staff.

“Each one of us has a unique perspective,” French said. “That’s why we need representation in Site Council from all of those different parties, so that we have a complete picture of the health and the pulse of our school.”

For the students who have concerns about their experience at South High School but feel that they don’t a place to voice them, the Site Council is actively seeking their presence. Due to the powerful capabilities of the Site Council set up by the district, students can take charge of their education and be a part of the changes that they wish to see for themselves and their peers.

Thanks to lead secretary and Site Council note-taker Karen Holly, the full notes for the meeting (and every meeting prior) is accessible to the public on the South High School website.

For those who missed the first Site Council meeting, the next meeting will occur on October 25; new members who are interested in attending are welcome to join the Site Council at any of their meetings this year.

The full text of the bylaws is available on the South High School website alongside Holly’s notes from every meeting.