Several Burrell High School juniors and seniors are joining district school board members to discuss important issues, offering students an opportunity to influence board decisions that impact them.
The four students began joining school board members at the beginning of the academic year for the agenda meetings to discuss issues before members act on them during regular meetings. The students, who are non-voting members of the board, are seniors Damian Barr and Dylan Selinger; and juniors Helaina Herbulock and Kaylee Armando.
"We wanted our students to become more involved in school decisions," said Dr. John Boylan, the high school's principal. "They have a lot to offer."
The idea first surfaced several years ago after school board members discussed a similar arrangement in another district where student representatives meet with their board. Burrell school board members unanimously adopted the new program last year.
"We all felt that students deserved a voice in their district," Burrell School Board President Pam Key said. "What better way to know what is needed than to have our own students talk with us. We felt it gave them ownership into their district, and we felt it also made us more accountable to them."
It is also important for students to understand the work it takes to lead a school and how the board functions through good times and difficult ones, Key said. "We hope that there is a better understanding about all that goes into running our district, and it is rarely black and white."
District leaders got the word out about the effort to develop student involvement on the board. Boylan said students applied for the new positions, and administrators interviewed and selected them for the new positions. Boylan said a big part of the selection process came from how students explained their rationale for wanting to work with school board members.
Students serve the board members in several ways, Key said. They bring ideas to the board to consider, offer insights into issues that the board considers and raise concerns from the student body in hopes that members will address them.
"We want open communication with not only our faculty, staff, and parents, but also with our students," Key said. We also want them to go back to their peers with an understanding of their district, to tell them what we do, how we do it, and all that is currently going on and pertinent to their experience and education in our district."