Frequently Asked Questions about School Improvement Councils
What is a School Improvement Council (SIC)?
An SIC is a broad-based body intended to advise the principal and school, and is focused on helping to achieve school improvement.
Who serves on an SIC?
Parent, teacher, student (9th grade or above), and community member representatives serve on an SIC, as do the school's principal and other ex-officio members.
Is every school required to have an SIC?
State law requires that every K-12 public school in South Carolina convene an SIC. The law states that it is the responsibility of the local school board to ensure SICs are constituted within each district. This includes career, vocational, and technical schools. Public charter schools may convene an SIC but it is not required by law.
How many SICs members are there in South Carolina?
As of June 2016, there are approximately 14,000 individuals serving as SIC members on more than 1,100 School Improvement Councils throughout South Carolina.
What do SICs do?
SIC duties focus primarily on the school improvement process. SICs:
- provide input and feedback during the development of the school's five-year renewal (improvement) plan and annual updates;
- assist in implementation of school improvement programs and activities;
- monitor and report on progress toward improvement goals in the annual SIC Report to the Parents and with the principal in the narrative to the SC School Report Card;
- provide other assistance as requested by the principal.
What are the limitations on an SICs' authority?
SICs are advisory only. The do not have any of the powers and duties reserved for the local school board, district, or school administrators, teachers, and staff.
How are SIC parent representatives chosen?
Parents are nominated and elected by the parents at their child's school. State law requires that parent elections be held by October 15 each year.
How are SIC teacher representatives chosen?
Teachers are nominated and elected by teachers at their school. State law requires that teacher elections be held by October 15 each year.
How are SIC student representatives chosen?
Students elect student representatives in schools serving grade 9 or higher. State law requires that student elections also be held by October 15 each year. Elementary and middle school SIC may include student representatives on the SIC if they choose to do so.
How are community member representatives chosen?
The school principal appoints community member representatives to the SIC. Interested community members should contact the school principal or SIC Chair for more details.
What leadership does an SIC have?
Each SIC elects its own officers annually – a Chair, a Vice Chair or Co-Chair, and a Secretary. As SICs are not intended to (and should not) hold funds, there is no office of treasurer. It is the responsibility of the elected SIC Chair to preside over SIC meetings and to work with the principal to develop meeting agendas.
How can I find out who the SIC representatives are for the schools in my community?
Members of the public can find out whether their community's schools have convened SICs in compliance with state law requirements, as well as the names of current SIC members, by clicking the "Read Only" function on the SC-SIC Member Network homepage. SICs are required by law to report membership information to the Member Network by November 15 every year. The public can also use the "Read Only" function to view recent SIC Reports to the Parents posted to the Member Network by their schools. The Member Network homepage can be accessed directly from the link above or through the Quick Link located on right-hand panel of this site.
How are SICs funded?
Local SICs are not funded and do not have a budget. SIC representatives serve on a volunteer basis and SICs are not authorized to handle monies or maintain their own bank accounts. SICs can write grant proposals or request monetary or in-kind donations on behalf of their school so long as these are made directly to the school, PTA/PTO, or other authorized organization. SICs can also request that their school or district provide funding for SIC-sponsored initiatives such as family and community engagement events or to cover the cost of training for SIC members. The SC School Improvement Council (SC-SIC), housed within the University of South Carolina College of Education, receives funding annually from the State General Assembly to provide training, resources, materials, and other assistance to local SICs statewide.
Why take the time to serve on an SIC?
- Because when parents are engaged in their children's education, their children do better in school and the quality of the school improves.
- Because parents bring wisdom to the Council. They have in-depth knowledge about their own children's strengths and needs as well as the perspectives of other families in the school.
- Because community members who are NOT parent of children in the schools still benefit from good schools in the form of a stronger local economy and property values.
- Because citizens who are NOT parents of children in the schools also have unique contributions to make to School Improvement Councils. Senior citizens, business people, members of the faith community, staff of social service agencies, and others all have knowledge, experiences and resources that can benefit their community's schools.
Where can I find the state laws pertaining to SICs?
SICs were first created as School Advisory Councils in 1977 with the passage of the Education Finance Act. In 1984, the Education Improvement Act changed the name from Advisory Councils to School Improvement Councils and assigned specific duties that focused on improving the quality of schools. The role of SICs has continued to expand with the passage of the Early Childhood Development and Academic Assistance Act (Act 135) of 1993, the Education Accountability Act of 1998, and the Read to Succeed Act of 2014.
The provisions of these laws affecting SICs have been codified in the SC Code of Laws, Title 59, which can be accessed online free of charge at http://www.scstatehouse.gov/.
Citations to specific provisions affecting SICs are as follows:
- SECTION 59 5 65 (11)(b). (Powers and responsibilities of State Board of Education)
- SECTION 59 5 150. (Awards for civic contribution to public education)
- SECTION 59 18 710. (Recommendations regarding state’s accreditation system)
- SECTION 59 18 900 (E) (SICs assist with state school report card narrative)
- SECTION 59 18 1310 (Consolidation of strategic plans and improvement reports)
- SECTION 59 18 1500(a)(1) (Renewal plans for schools rated below average or at risk)
- SECTION 59 18 1510 (B)(2) (External review teams at schools rated below average or at risk)
- SECTION 59 20 60(5) (SICs prepare annual report to the parents)
- SECTION 59 20 60(6) (Establishing school improvement councils, membership, duties, terms of office, elections, reporting membership to SC-SIC)
- SECTION 59 20 65 (SC-SIC to provide assistance and training to SICs)
- SECTION 59 24 50 (SC DOE Leadership Academy training to address importance of SICs)
- SECTION 59 26 20 (m) (Certification programs for administrators to include training on SICs)
- SECTION 59 139 10 (G) (SIC input in early childhood development initiative and academic assistance plan)
- SECTION 59 155 140(C) (SIC input in school reading plan)