Getting On Board
Student seats district panels considered
September 29, 2010
Members of the curriculum, instruction and technology committee hope students will be on board with this idea.
“I would like to have a student representative,” committee chairperson Kin Angove said. “It’s important that students have a voice.”
Most of the decisions made by the Warren County School District Board of Education impact students.
Students are welcome to attend board and committee meetings, but no time is set aside and no procedures are in place to facilitate student involvement.
On Monday, the committee discussed three options for providing students with that voice.
The first option was to appoint one or two non-voting student members to the board.
The second was to “appoint one student from each attendance area who would serve on one of the four committees,” Director of Secondary Education Amanda Hetrick said.
The third was to bring together student representatives of the school improvement teams once a month to discuss the issues and prepare information for the board. Agenda items would be created for the student reports to committees and the board. The student discussions would be facilitated by an administrator, Hetrick said.
Committee member Paul Yourchisin said he supported the second option. He said the committee setting would be less formal and intimidating for the students than a board seat.
Board member Tom Knapp also favored the second option. He suggested the representatives be rotated through the committees to ensure that each attendance area is represented at each committee.
Committee chairperson Kim Angove asked how the board would handle sensitive information in the case of a student or students being members of the board or committees.
She said information from the Pennsylvania School Board Association shows other districts handle that situation by specifying that student board members will not attend executive sessions unless expressly invited.
Board president Arthur Stewart asked board members to consider the third option. He said board and committee meetings already extend well into the evenings on which they are held. Adding more representatives could further extend the length of those meetings and keep the students involved away from home late on school nights.
“We thought that would give the most opportunity for the most students to be involved,” Hetrick said. “We do see opportunities for students. This is a nice way to start.”
Board member John Grant asked if students would participate. “We have opportunity for students to interact with us every time we meet,” he said. “I’m concerned what it is we really want this opportunity to provide.”
Angove said she hoped students would learn about how the district is governed and how meetings are run, including Roberts Rules of Order. She also said a student board or committee member would serve as a reminder to board members that their decisions impact the students.
The committee chose to move the matter forward for consideration by the full board and left all of the possibilities on the table.