Building a Meeting Agenda
One week before the scheduled student council meeting, the adviser and officers should convene to prepare a meeting agenda that will be shared with members 2-3 days prior. Members should be invited to submit any agenda items before the officers meet. The following is an outline of a standard agenda with each section explained.
I. Call to order
The chairperson calls the meeting to order, preferably using a gavel.
II. Roll Call
Roll call takes a bit of time, but is essential to maintain the accountability of members’ responsibility to participate. For the adviser, keeping an accurate council roll is the equivalent of class attendance as it is the adviser’s responsibility to identify and account for students absent from the meeting, especially during school hours. The secretary can take attendance, but it may be more advantageous to assign other members who then give the attendance sheet to the secretary for inclusion in the minutes. Roll can also be taken by using a sign in process or other strategy, if accuracy is maintained.
III. Approval of Minutes (from the previous meeting)
Approval of the minutes can take place as a reading during the meeting, but with technology, time is saved by sharing out the minutes to members the day prior to the meeting. The chairperson should ask, “are there any corrections or additions to the minutes?” If there are none, “They stand approved” or if corrections are made “stand approved as corrected.”
IV. Officers’ Reports
Each officer should report on his or her work since the previous meeting. Officer reports should be brief, possibly with a time limit. To save time and ensure accuracy, they should be given in writing with a verbal summary or explanation.
If an officer makes a recommendation, its form and content should resemble a committee recommendation. After the report is given, the chairperson should restate the recommendation in the form of a main motion and ask for a second.
V. Standing Committee Reports
Each standing committee should give a report on its work since the previous meeting. Standing committees include committees that serve all year and are usually mentioned in the constitution/bylaws. The same rules apply as to the officer reports.
VI. Special (ad hoc) Committee Reports
Special or ad hoc committees are appointed for a limited time and specific purpose, and their existence terminates with their final report to the assembly. These reports should also be in writing with a verbal summary.
A detailed committee report that offers a recommendation for the assembly should include:
- A description of the way in which the committee undertook its task
- The information gathered and/or the facts discovered
- The findings or conclusions derived from the facts or information
- Resolutions or recommendations.
VII. Old Business/General Orders
Old business/general orders include:
- A question that was pending at the last session when it adjourned
- Any unfinished business that did not come up at the last session
- A motion to take from the table is in order at this time if no motion is pending.
VIII. New Business
Motions that introduce new items of business or motions to take from the table are in order at this time. Motions are made, seconded, discussed, and voted upon. If more information is needed, the item can be left unfinished and be taken up under old business at the next meeting.
Announcements—committee meetings or other items of interest—must be made before the meeting is adjourned; motions are out of order at this time. The chairperson may make important announcements at any time during the meeting.
Adjournment ends not only the meeting but also the session. The next time the council meets, it must start from the beginning of a new agenda. Issues not addressed during the meeting are transferred to the new agenda as Unfinished Business. There is no debate on a motion to adjourn.