Shared Decision- Making Committee Guidelines
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) Board of Education established and approved the campus-level planning and decision-making process in 1992. This process includes the creation and maintenance of a Shared Decision-Making Committee (SDMC) at each school to review the district’s educational goals, objectives, and major district wide classroom instructional programs. Each committee shall be designed to involve professional and non-professional staff, parents, community members, and business representatives in establishing academic and other performance objectives of the school for each academic excellence indicator adopted in the Texas Education Code (TEC).
For the purposes of this memorandum, the following definitions shall apply.
- Parent- Parent means a person residing in the district who is a parent of or who is standing in parental relation to a student enrolled at a district school and who is not an employee of the school or the district.
- Community Representative- Community representative means a person 18 years of age or older residing in the district but does not include a person who is a parent of a student in a district school or a person who is an employee of the school or district.
- Business Representative- Business representative means a person who operates a business, without regard to the location of the business or the residence of the person.
- Classroom Teachers- Classroom teachers are certified teachers with full-time responsibility for teaching students at one school. At the elementary level, these are teachers who are responsible for documenting student attendance.
- Other School-Based Professionals- Other school-based professional staff are certified staff assigned to one school on a full-time basis such as elementary ancillary teachers or specialists (art, music, and PE), librarians, counselors, nurses, coordinators, speech therapy teachers, resources teachers, deans of instruction, and assistant principals.
- Non-Instructional Staff: The SDMC includes only one non-instructional staff member. Non-instructional staff members include clerical, custodian, food service, and teacher aides.
The school principal determines the size of the committee. Membership must include parents, community representatives, and no more than one business representative. Professional staff members must include at least two-thirds classroom teachers and one-third other campus-level professional staff. The TEC stipulates the ratio between the number of classroom teachers and other school-based staff members. The number of classroom teachers should be at least twice the number of school-based professionals (2:1). This ratio does not apply to non-instructional staff members, parents, or business and community members. No more than one non-instructional staff member should be elected to the SDMC. Other SDMC members must include at least two parents of students currently enrolled within the district selected by the campus's parent organization; two community members; and one business representative. The principal has the authority to appoint additional parents, community representatives, and business representatives to the SDMC.
The Campus Intervention Team (CIT) is based on the Shared Decision-Making model (SDM) designed to establish, monitor, and evaluate goals for budgeting, staffing, curriculum, planning, school organization, staffing patterns, and staff development. This model is aligned to state legislation and HISD board policy. A Professional Service Provider (PSP), and a School Support Officer or Lead Principal is a member of the Campus Intervention Team for schools under state Met Standard sanctions or federal sanctions as a Focus or Priority campus. Teacher Development Specialists and other district level personnel can serve as members of the CIT according to the campus needs. The intention of the SDMC is to pull together our community in a constructive, organized, and unified body to enhance the education of all students. The CIT is responsible for development, implementation, and monitoring of the School Improvement Plan, monitoring of student performance, and determination of student interventions and support service.
The SDMC component of the CIT is the shared decision-making body. Professional staff representatives are elected by the faculty. Principal determines number of classroom teachers; then, assigns half that number to school-based staff. This complies with 2/3 - 1/3 rule for professional staff. In addition, the committee must have one non-instructional staff, one business member, at least two parents and at least two community members. Parents are elected by the PTO, PTA or PACS membership.
The Council meets monthly and as needed to discuss issues brought forth by the administration, staff, parents, or community. It is supported by standing committees that address budgeting, staffing, curriculum, planning, school organization, staffing patterns, and staff development. Standing committees meet as needed. Parents are encouraged to serve on standing committees.
The SDMC functions under the direction of the Principal. Members of the SDMC attend SDMC meetings for the term of his/her office, monitor the implementation of the School Improvement Plan, address issues presented by the principal, present issues for discussion and recommend resolutions to the SDMC, create ad hoc committees by consensus of the SDMC, chair standing committees and ad hoc committees, submit minutes to the principal for committee meetings, and report the recommendations to the SDMC. The SDMC is responsible for approving all professional development plans for the school.
The Principal coordinates the process of shared decision making, facilitates communication for all stakeholders, considers issues and recommendations from the community, SDMC, and standing committees, and makes decisions based on those recommendations.
Shared Decision Making Process
Consensus is the ultimate goal of the SDMC. Agreement by all participants is not always possible or necessary for consensus. Consensus is a collective process that provides a forum for full dialogue on appropriate/applicable responses to issues.
Members of the committees discuss and make recommendations to the SDMC. The SDMC reviews recommendations and reaches consensus. Sufficient consensus is defined as a willingness to settle an issue in favor of the majority. All points of view will be considered and general agreement must be reached before decisions will be implemented. If general agreement is not reached, further study of the issue will occur and alternatives will be presented until agreement is reached. After all alternatives have been explored, a deadlock can be broken by a majority vote. As issues come up for discussion, the chairperson is responsible for ensuring that all present have a legitimate opportunity to state their case. The principal retains the authority to exercise a veto over decisions made by the SDMC.
Method of Communications
Members of the school community may submit non-personnel issues for consideration through the shared decision-making process. Written issues or concerns are submitted to any SDMC member or placed in the SDMC box located in the main office. A school community member may attend a meeting of any committee to discuss or present an issue. All meetings are on the monthly calendar. The SDMC delivers issues to appropriate standing committees for action. Communications from all committees is transmitted to faculty, staff, and parents.
All SDMC information must be included on the campus website. A list of meeting dates, committee members, agendas and minutes for each meeting must be able to be accessed. The home page of each campus website must include a link to the SDMC page for easy access.
The school-based professional staff representatives to the SDMC are elected according to rules established by the HISD Board of Education. The principal serves as chairperson of the committee and as a member; a co-chairperson is elected from the school professional staff. Each May an election is held by secret ballot to determine the school-based members of the SDMC. Each member serves a two-year staggered term. Schools may identify first and second runner-ups that would fill vacancies during the first nine weeks of school only. When a vacancy occurs after that time period, an election is held by secret ballot to select a new representative to complete the term.
Nominated employees shall give their consent to serve on the committee before they are eligible for election. Nominations for election must be received by the principal within ten consecutive working days prior to the election.
Classroom Teachers shall be nominated for vacancies and elected through secret ballot by just classroom teachers assigned to that campus. (Elected in May)
Other School-Based Professionals shall be nominated for vacancies and elected through secret ballot by the school-based professional staff, including classroom teachers. (Elected in August)
Non-Instructional Staff shall be nominated and elected through secret ballot by just the non-instructional staff members. (Elected in August)
Parents are selected by the campus’s parent organization (PTA/PTO).
Community Members are appointed by the principal and must be selected in a manner that provides for appropriate representation of the community’s diversity. A minimum of two community residents shall be appointed.
Business Representatives are appointed by the principal and must be selected in a manner that provides for appropriate representation of the community’s diversity. A minimum of at least one business representative shall be appointed.
The SDMC must be involved in decisions related to areas specified by the TEC. The areas that require involvement of the SDMC are:
- Implementing all pertinent campus-level planning processes;
- Developing recommendations for the school budget;
- Submitting recommendations for the school curriculum;
- Recommending changes in the school’s staffing patterns;
- Developing and approving the campus staff development plans;
- Developing, reviewing, and revising the School Improvement Plan (SIP) for the purpose of improving student performance for all student populations. After the principal approves the SIP, the SDMC will present the plan to the school-based professional staff for a vote of approval. See Reference (d);
- Reviewing and making recommendations regarding the school’s organizational structure; and
- Establishing procedures to periodically obtain broad-based community, parent, and staff input.
Each school SDMC must have a budget subcommittee, and it may have subcommittees in other areas as well.
The operating procedures for the committee are as follows:
- Meetings: In addition to regularly scheduled meetings (approximately once a month), the committee must hold at least one public meeting each year after receipt of the annual campus rating from the Texas Education Agency to discuss the performance of the school and the school’s objectives.
- Agenda: The committee shall establish procedures for school personnel, parents, and business and community representatives to submit agenda items for meetings.
- Minutes: A record of all decisions and significant discussion items shall be maintained by the committee. Copies of the SDMC minutes shall be distributed to members of the committee, school-based personnel, and the appropriate district superintendent, and shall be available to the general public upon request.
- Decisions: The committee is an advisory group to the school principal except for campus staff development. The committee must outline procedures for addressing the areas of involvement listed above and for decision making. The principal shall consult the SDMC in matters relating to the school educational program, but the principal has the final authority in fiduciary and financial decisions.