Local School Councils
Advice for LSC Members
from Sarah Rothschild, CTU Education Policy Analyst
Understanding the LSC law, rules and procedures is really important. Oftentimes, the principal has not received any LSC training and then it is critical that the 12 or 13 (for high school) members on the LSC do. CPS offers online modules that we definitely recommend you take to ensure that you meet the legal compliance for training on all 9 modules within your first six months in office.
Please note, however, that taking these modules online is only a first step in understanding how to govern effectively. The online modules do not cover many of the issues that you will face as an LSC member, and they do not provide any mechanism to ask questions. The CTU highly recommends that you also register for LSC webinars and monthly gatherings organized by the LSCs 4 All Coalition (which includes CTU), CTU-specific trainings, attend the citywide LSC summits.
Additionally, joining the LSC Google Group managed by Raise Your Hand is a really useful way to keep current with important LSC information (because, unfortunately, the Office of LSC Relations usually communicates with LSC chairs and principals who don’t always relay the information to the rest of the Council members). In this Google Group, you can ask questions and usually get a response within a few hours from experienced members across the city. Members can directly join the LSC Google Group here or email email@example.com with questions, suggestions and concerns.
If your school does not have an active PPLC, or if your PPLC would like some training to improve its effectiveness, please contact SarahRothschild@ctulocal1.org. CTU usually also offers a PPLC workshop at every Delegate Training. The PPLC is responsible for making recommendations to the LSC on the school curriculum, instruction, professional development, budget and student safety. CPS recommends that the PPLC is a standing agenda item at every LSC meeting and these reports are critically important for the annual principal evaluation because the parents and community reps really need to hear from the school staff in order to have an honest and in-depth understanding of school issues. Without the PPLC, most LSCs only hear the principal’s report.
Bookmark, download and/or print the CPS LSC Guidebook. You will be referring to this often! Some particularly useful components are:
- The list of documents your principal must share with the LSC each year and throughout the year (p. 12)
- Sample meeting agenda (p. 77)
- List of funding streams and what the money can be used for (pgs. 134 & 156)
- Examples of items that LSCs can easily collect and use for annual principal evaluation (p. 226)
The LSC section of the Illinois School Code ((105 ILCS 5/34-2.1) (from Ch. 122, par. 34-2.1)). This is a useful reference for LSC issues not covered in the CPS LSC Guidebook, such as school staff elections and the PPLC.
OLSCR Staff. CPS has 8 Facilitators assigned to support LSCs by geographic network, in addition to an executive director and an assistant director. Whenever you run into technical issues or disputes, the facilitators are supposed to help. However, please note that more often than not, they will support the principal over the rest of the LSC! We still suggest that you contact OLSCR when you have issues so it’s on their radar and on record (always keep a paper trail!), but you should also contact CTU because we have the tools to help you organize your LSC and resolve a lot of your issues through collective action.
If you think there are serious issues or legal violations occurring at your school (e.g, financial impropriety), then you should submit a complaint form to open an investigation with the CPS Inspector General’s Office – and also inform CTU.
LSCs across the city have been holding emergency/special meetings to discuss and pass resolutions urging CPS to delay in-person learning until after COVID rates have fallen to safer levels and the school buildings are truly safe to reopen and mitigate virus transmission among staff and students. This is a very powerful activity for LSCs to partake in, even though these statements do not have a legal standing. Every LSC should be having hard conversations around school facility issues, staffing, internet access, student attendance, and student academic success. These are things that LSCs already should be discussing, but obviously now is absolutely urgent. Now that the TA has been approved by the CTU membership, every school needs to set up a Safety Committee and LSC’s need to be kept apprised of all health and safety issues at their schools.
Organizing for Power
Time to get to work! The CTU wants to help support strong and fully empowered LSCs that work collaboratively with parents and community representatives. We have been working on LSC reform bills in Springfield to strengthen democratic governance at schools. Keep your ears open for calls to action to pass these bills this year!
Do not let vacancies sit unfilled on your LSC! Once your LSC slips below 7 members, you will not be able to vote on anything for the rest of the term, including filling those vacancies – this includes approving the budget, internal account transfers, principal evaluation, principal contract renewal or selecting a new principal. Talk to parents and folks in the community to fill vacancies ASAP. Work with the whole LSC to make LSC meetings inviting for public participation and cover important issues that your school community cares about. People want to join LSCs that are getting work done and improving the school for everyone. Make sure your LSC has a standing agenda item to fill vacancies so people can be voted on at any meeting (staff vacancies require a staff poll and CPS approval – please contact Sarah Rothschild if you need help filling staff vacancies).
Guidance on LSCs during COVID-19
Important CPS links to inform and empower your LSC
- Office of LSC Relations – LSC Facilitators: Contact these people if you think LSC rules are being violated at your school.
- LSC Training Portal
- LSC Reference Guide in English
- Guia de Recursos de los LSCs (Spanish LSC Reference Guide)
- CPS Financial Information
- CPS Contracts & Procurement
- CPS Employee Position Files
- School Profiles have LOTS of good information about your school!
Enter your school’s name, click on the link, and then click on the link for the “downloads” section:
- My School My Voice Survey
- Asbestos report
- Facility Assessment
- CPS Data Portal has SQRP, suspension/expulsion data, school achievement data, enrollment and demographic data.
- SQRP Info
- Principal Evaluation Rubric
- 5 Essentials Survey has information on how well organized your school is.
General CTU Announcement
CTU committees are a great way for any member to make a difference. Join one now!