Chapter XVI: Faculty Senates

§18-5A-5 Public School Faculty Senates Established; Election of Officers; Powers and Duties

There is established at every public school in this state a faculty senate which is comprised of all permanent, full-time professional educators employed at the school who shall all be voting members. "Professional educators", as used in this section, means "professional educators" as defined in chapter eighteen-a of this code. A quorum of more than one half of the voting members of the faculty shall be present at any meeting of the faculty senate at which official business is conducted. Prior to the beginning of the instructional term each year, but within the employment term, the principal shall convene a meeting of the faculty senate to elect a chair, vice chair and secretary and discuss matters relevant to the beginning of the school year. The vice chair shall preside at meetings when the chair is absent. Meetings of the faculty senate shall be held during the times provided in accordance with subdivision (12), subsection (b) of this section as determined by the faculty senate. Emergency meetings may be held during noninstructional time at the call of the chair or a majority of the voting members by petition submitted to the chair and vice chair. An agenda of matters to be considered at a scheduled meeting of the faculty senate shall be available to the members at least two employment days prior to the meeting. For emergency meetings the agenda shall be available as soon as possible prior to the meeting. The chair of the faculty senate may appoint such committees as may be desirable to study and submit recommendations to the full faculty senate, but the acts of the faculty senate shall be voted upon by the full body.

In addition to any other powers and duties conferred by law, or authorized by policies adopted by the state or county board or bylaws which may be adopted by the faculty senate not inconsistent with law, the powers and duties listed in this subsection are specifically reserved for the faculty senate. The intent of these provisions is neither to restrict nor to require the activities of every faculty senate to the enumerated items except as otherwise stated. Each faculty senate shall organize its activities as it considers most effective and efficient based on school size, departmental structure and other relevant factors.

Each faculty senate shall control funds allocated to the school from legislative appropriations pursuant to section nine, article nine-a of this chapter. From those funds, each classroom teacher and librarian shall be allotted  $300 for expenditure during the instructional year for academic materials, supplies or equipment which, in the judgment of the teacher or librarian, will assist him or her in providing instruction in his or her assigned academic subjects or shall be returned to the faculty senate: Provided, That nothing contained herein prohibits the funds from being used for programs and materials that, in the opinion of the teacher, enhance student behavior, increase academic achievement, improve self-esteem and address the problems of students at risk. The remainder of funds shall be expended for academic materials, supplies or equipment in accordance with a budget approved by the faculty senate. Notwithstanding any other provisions of the law to the contrary, funds not expended in one school year are available for expenditure in the next school year: Provided, however, That the amount of county funds budgeted in a fiscal year may not be reduced throughout the year as a result of the faculty appropriations in the same fiscal year for such materials, supplies and equipment. Accounts shall be maintained of the allocations and expenditures of such funds for the purpose of financial audit. Academic materials, supplies or equipment shall be interpreted broadly, but does not include materials, supplies or equipment which will be used in or connected with interscholastic athletic events.

A faculty senate may establish a process for members to interview or otherwise obtain information regarding applicants for classroom teaching vacancies that will enable the faculty senate to submit recommendations regarding employment to the principal. To facilitate the establishment of a process that is timely, effective, consistent among schools and counties, and designed to avoid litigation or grievance, the state board shall promulgate a rule pursuant to article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to implement the provisions of this subdivision. The rule may include the following:

  • A process or alternative processes that a faculty senate may adopt;

  • If determined necessary, a requirement and procedure for training for principals and faculty senate members or their designees who may participate in interviews and provisions that may provide for the compensation based on the appropriate daily rate of a classroom teacher who directly participates in the training for periods beyond his or her individual contract;

  • Timelines that will assure the timely completion of the recommendation or the forfeiture of the right to make a recommendation upon the failure to complete a recommendation within a reasonable time;

  • The authorization of the faculty senate to delegate the process for making a recommendation to a committee of no less than three members of the faculty senate; and

  • Such other provisions as the state board determines are necessary or beneficial for the process to be established by the faculty senate.

A faculty senate may nominate teachers for recognition as outstanding teachers under state and local teacher recognition programs and other personnel at the school, including parents, for recognition under other appropriate recognition programs and may establish such programs for operation at the school.

A faculty senate may submit recommendations to the principal regarding the assignment scheduling of secretaries, clerks, aides and paraprofessionals at the school.

A faculty senate may submit recommendations to the principal regarding establishment of the master curriculum schedule for the next ensuing school year.

A faculty senate may establish a process for the review and comment on sabbatical leave requests submitted by employees at the school pursuant to section eleven, article two of this chapter.

Each faculty senate shall elect three faculty representatives to the local school improvement council established pursuant to section two of this article.

Each faculty senate may nominate a member for election to the county staff development council pursuant to section eight, article three, chapter eighteen-a of this code.

Each faculty senate shall have an opportunity to make recommendations on the selection of faculty to serve as mentors for beginning teachers under beginning teacher internship programs at the school.

A faculty senate may solicit, accept and expend any grants, gifts, bequests, donations and any other funds made available to the faculty senate: Provided, That the faculty senate shall select a member who has the duty of maintaining a record of all funds received and expended by the faculty senate, which record shall be kept in the school office and is subject to normal auditing procedures.

Any faculty senate may review the evaluation procedure as conducted in their school to ascertain whether the evaluations were conducted in accordance with the written system required pursuant to section twelve, article two, chapter eighteen-a of this code or pursuant to section two, article three-c, chapter eighteen-a of this code, as applicable, and the general intent of this Legislature regarding meaningful performance evaluations of school personnel. If a majority of members of the faculty senate determine that such evaluations were not so conducted, they shall submit a report in writing to the State Board of Education: Provided, That nothing herein creates any new right of access to or review of any individual’s evaluations.

A local board shall provide to each faculty senate at least six two-hour blocks of time for faculty senate meetings with at least one two-hour block of time scheduled in the first month of the employment term, one two-hour block of time scheduled in the last month of the employment term and at least one two-hour block of time scheduled in each of the months of October, December, February and April. A faculty senate may meet for an unlimited block of time during noninstructional days to discuss and plan strategies to improve student instruction and to conduct other faculty senate business. A faculty senate meeting scheduled on a noninstructional day shall be considered as part of the purpose for which the noninstructional day is scheduled. This time may be used and determined at the local school level and includes, but is not limited to, faculty senate meetings.

Each faculty senate shall develop a strategic plan to manage the integration of special needs students into the regular classroom at their respective schools and submit the strategic plan to the superintendent of the county board periodically pursuant to guidelines developed by the State Department of Education. Each faculty senate shall encourage the participation of local school improvement councils, parents and the community at large in developing the strategic plan for each school.

Each strategic plan developed by the faculty senate shall include at least: (A) A mission statement; (B) goals; (C) needs; (D) objectives and activities to implement plans relating to each goal; (E) work in progress to implement the strategic plan; (F) guidelines for placing additional staff into integrated classrooms to meet the needs of exceptional needs students without diminishing the services rendered to the other students in integrated classrooms; (G) guidelines for implementation of collaborative planning and instruction; and (H) training for all regular classroom teachers who serve students with exceptional needs in integrated classrooms.