Influencing Community Involvement in School: A School Community Council

By Preston, Jane P. | McGill Journal of Education (Online), Spring 2011 | Go to article overview
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Influencing Community Involvement in School: A School Community Council

Preston, Jane P., McGill Journal of Education (Online)

ABSTRACT. The purpose of this qualitative research was to explore the role a School Community Council (SCC) played in encouraging community involvement in a kindergarten to grade 12 school. Via 35 interviews, thematic data reflected that the SCC's influence was limited. As analyzed through social capital theory, SCC members shared thin levels of trust, which influenced the association's impact on community involvement. Research implications underscore the need for policymakers to reconsider SCC membership timelines.


RÉSUMÉ. L'objectif de cette recherche qualitative était d'explorer le rôle joué par un Conseil scolaire communautaire (CSC) dans la promotion de l'implication communautaire au sein d'une école accueillant des élèves de la maternelle à la cinquième secondaire. Les données thématiques recueillies grâce à 35 entrevues ont démontré que l'influence de CSC était limitée. Analysée en regard de la théorie du capital social, les membres du CSC ont communiqué un faible niveau de confiance, ce qui a influencé l'impact de cette association sur l'implication communautaire. Les résultats de la recherche mettent en lumière l'importance pour les décideurs de réviser l'historique de l'adhésion des CSC.

Throughout Canada over the last 15 years, a variety of amendments to provincial/territorial Education/School Acts have redefined the roles of school councils (see Preston, 2009). The most recent of these Acts, passed in 2006, mandated the implementation of a School Community Council (SCC) into every public school within the province of Saskatchewan. Within Saskatchewan school settings, SCCs commonly consist of five to nine elected parents and community members who serve as an advisory body for the principal and school board. The purposes of SCCs are to "develop shared responsibility for the learning success and well-being of all children and youth," and "encour age and facilitate parent and community engagement in school planning and improvement processes" (Saskatchewan Learning, 2005, p. 8). As summarized by Saskatoon Public Schools (2008/2009), "The SCC in each school is designed to encourage active involvement of parents and community, thereby supporting student learning and well-being" (p. 28). Legislatively enshrining these aims demonstrates the provincial government's recent commitment to supporting parent and community involvement within Saskatchewan's public educational system.

Information pertaining to SCCs is significant for many reasons. First, even though SCCs have been in existence for a short period of time, limited research has been conducted on them, stressing the timeliness of this article. Second, given that Saskatchewan's Education Act mandates the existence of SCCs in every public school within the province, SCCs are now a central feature within Saskatchewan's educational system. In turn, this paper has potential to be of interest to stakeholders within every school in the province. Third, over the past four years, I have researched how school councils affect community involvement in a school. During this time, I have only found six studies (Epstein, 2001, 2005; Parker & Leithwood, 2000; Sanders & Lewis, 2005; Sanders & Simon, 2002; Sheldon & Van Voorhis, 2004) that directly relate to a school council's influence on community involvement in a school. This paper represents an effort to address the research void pertaining to school councils and community involvement in school.

The purpose of the research was to examine the role an SCC played in influencing community involvement within a kindergarten to grade 12 Saskatchewan school. In what follows, I provide background information pertaining to the topics of community involvement and school councils. An overview of the methodology used for the study is supplied, and a thematic representation of the data is provided.

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