SHARED DECISION MAKING COMMITTEE (SDMC)
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).
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. See References (a), (e), and (f).
The school-based professional staff representatives to the SDMC are elected according to rules established by the HISD Board of Education. For more detailed information see Reference (c). 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.
The SDMC must be involved in decisions related to areas specified by the TEC. See References (e) and (f). 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.
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 arise for discussion, the chairperson is responsible for ensuring that all present have a legitimate opportunity to state their case. The Head of School retains the authority to exercise a veto over decisions made by the SDMC.