Council members feel they have a significant role to play in the life of their schools and children’s education, such as participating in school improvement planning, advising on school programs and policies, and creating a successful learning environment for students; Many advisory council members indicated the need for training and resources, and more opportunities to network with other councils within a school board in order to enable them to more effectively carry out their responsibilities; Clarification is needed in some areas related to councils’ roles and responsibilities, such as their role in school improvement planning. Nova Scotia’s school advisory councils are already playing anactive role in improving their schools, and the volunteer memberssay their councils could be even more effective with a littlehelp. That’s the finding of a report that was prepared after aprovincewide consultation process held in the spring of 2003 onthe role of the councils. The Report on the School AdvisoryCouncils Consultation was released today, Dec. 11. “The dedication and strong level of commitment held by schooladvisory council members toward school improvement wasillustrated repeatedly throughout the consultation process,” saidEducation Minister Jamie Muir. “The report will be very valuablein helping us further develop and clarify the meaningful roleschool advisory councils play in the education of our children.” The advisory councils are volunteer organizations that wereestablished in Nova Scotia under the Education Act of 1996. During consultations in the fall of 2002 on the Learning for Lifeplan to improve the quality of education in Nova Scotia, someconcerns were raised about the effectiveness of school advisorycouncils. The Minister of Education at the time made a commitment toundertake a review of the roles and responsibilities of theadvisory councils to ensure that they have a meaningful voice insupport of quality education in Nova Scotia. In the spring of 2003, the discussion paper Parents and TheirChildren’s Education: Defining Meaningful Roles for SchoolAdvisory Councils was distributed to all school advisorycouncils, school boards and partner organizations. Ten focusgroups were also held to further explore ways to improveeffectiveness of school advisory councils. Among the findings in the report: Overall the consultations found the establishment of schooladvisory councils is viewed as a very positive step to providingenhanced parental and community involvement in schools. “I was very happy to see the focus groups and survey,” said PaulCalder, a member of the Amherst Regional High School AdvisoryCouncil during the consultation process. “It told me that theDepartment of Education is taking the school advisory councilsseriously.” Council members strongly believe they have a valuable role toplay in creating an environment where students can succeed. Thatview is supported by the Department of Education and by schoolboards. The minister and Department of Education staff will review thefindings of the report on school advisory councils and willprepare a response to be released in early 2004.