Students: pay more attention to School Board

Mya Halvorson, Staff Reporter

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Although ISD 709 hosts monthly school board meetings at Historic Old Central High School, students are rarely in attendance. “I don’t know where to start,” said junior Robert Williams.

Every regular School Board meeting is open to the public. Each meeting starts with a period reserved for public comment, and recently common topics have been East-West inequity, playground mulch replacement in elementary school playgrounds, and the suspension rates of students of color. Some groups, usually fine arts programs, occasionally speak to the School Board to thank them for their support.

Rachel Skwira-Brown, a sophomore who has attended school board meetings, says that her peers should attend meetings as well. “I think it is important for students to know [about] the people who are in charge of their school district, and it’s important to know how and why they make decisions. I think it’s really important for us as students to try to be a part of their processes,” said Skwira-Brown. “Almost everything the School Board does relates to [the students] and their education. [Students] should strive to have conversation with the board members and try to influence them to make decisions that help our school district move forward.”

One of the most important parts of a School Board meeting, for the students, at least, is the period of public comment. Here, students can speak their mind to some of the people with the most power over their educational system. “Not a lot of students usually want to see their school as a whole become better for learning, opportunities, and activities, but the rare amount of students that do should most definitely attend the School Board meetings,” said Williams.

Even though he expresses interest in representing Denfeld to the School Board, Williams, like many students, has hesitancy towards attending meetings. “Maybe just having a friend by my side [would motivate me to attend]. I know in life you have to do things alone … but that would make it more comfortable for me, at least the first few go-arounds.”

After the public comment period, the School Board begins their regular procedure according to their meeting’s agenda. “A person going to a school board meeting should expect to be there a while, the meetings are really long sometimes,” said Skwira-Brown. “They should be open to understanding the issues the Board faces, and they should expect to hear about all levels of the school district. Every meeting is different, but one thing to expect is a lot of talk about budget.” She says to watch for things that may concern Denfeld, such as funding cuts and changes to enrollment rules.

Both students agree that a student voice is necessary and important in the Board room.

“It shows our elected officials that the students care and are engaged and watching what they are doing,” said Skwira Brown.

“Students have a lot of knowledge about what’s going on in their school, so why shouldn’t they have a big weigh-in on what happens to the school?” said Williams. “What’s better than a strong young mind?”

 

Regular school board meetings take place at Historic Old Central at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month and are open to the public. The last meeting for the 2016-2017 school year will take place on June 20, and the following meeting for the 2017-2018 school year will take place on July 18. The full year’s schedule is available on ISD709’s website.

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Students: pay more attention to School Board