STUDENT SCHOOL BOARD REPRESENTATIVES
As we covered in last week’s column, the week of February 16-20 was designated as Minnesota’s annual School Board Recognition Week. The week is a time to build awareness and understanding of the vital functions of an elected school board and highlights the contributions made by Minnesota’s many school board members governing public education.
Although we typically acknowledge the School Board members for their service, the one group we did not highlight last week was the students who serve as school board representatives. The ROCORI School District has a long history of having students serve as non-voting members on the school board.
STUDENTS SERVING ON THE BOARD
The student representatives currently serving on the ROCORI School Board include Anne Howard, Alyssa Job, and Lisa Volkers. Each of the students is also a member of the senior high Student Senate and has chosen to serve as a liaison or representative of the students to the school board.
All three of these students have served on the board for multiple years. The students volunteered to serve when they were freshman or sophomores in school and have been attending school board meetings since. All of the students provide good information and insight into issues that come before the board.
PURPOSE OF STUDENT MEMBERS
Although the students are non-voting members of the school board, the students have several roles and functions within the board. Student representatives are afforded regular opportunities to report to the board about activities of the Student Senate or to inform the board members of any issues they wish to bring forward. On each school board agenda, there is opportunity for a student report.
The student members are invited to provide feedback or comment on any issue they desire. Although many of the issues are very complex and challenging, the students may interject their thoughts and ideas as the board discussion unfolds.
Most often, the student members will provide the elected school board members with information about activities, programs, or events that are happening at the school. Students often highlight issues like the special weeks during the year, events of Homecoming or Snow Week, the annual blood drive conducted by the Senate, regional student council events, or other similar topics. The students also bring back questions and ideas that are important to the student body.
Students may serve as representatives of the school board beginning in 9th grade. Ultimately, a student may be part of the school board for four years. We have, over the years, have a number of students serve for all four years of their senior high experience.
A student does not need to serve all four years. Through appointment by the Student Senate, a student may become a member of the school board at any point of their senior high career.
A few years ago, the opportunity to serve on the school board was extended to more than one student in a year. Previously, the board accepted the appointment of one representative on the board. Typically, the representative was a junior or senior which limited the total time of service to a single year or two.
Over time, our experience has demonstrated that one year of service often limits the ability of the student to fully engage in the board conversations. Because of the complex nature of many school board issues, it takes the students (as well as regular school board members) a while to become comfortable with the issues and considerable time to feel comfortable sharing their views.
Beyond extending the amount of time that student representatives may serve, the board also opened the opportunity to more student representatives. We have found that the students are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives when they are not the only student voice. The school board has opened the experience to as many as four student representatives (essentially one representative per grade level).
STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE ATTENDANCE
The student representatives are welcome to attend as many board meetings as they are able to join but are not expected to attend all of the meetings. Many of the students who serve on the school board are involved in multiple activities and/or work!
The ability for several students to participate means that they may rotate their attendance as well as providing the support of each other. We rarely have all the student members in attendance at one time, but that is acceptable with the number of student representatives.
MSBA SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY
Although we appreciate student service on the school board simply for what the students can offer, there are other potential benefits for the students. Students are able to include school board service on their records, applications, and (ultimately) their resume. School board service is a wonderful area of service to include.
In addition, the Minnesota School Boards Association offers two annual scholarships to student representatives around the state. Students must apply for the scholarships, but MSBA awards two scholarships each year. The scholarships are valued at $3000 per student.
As we shared last week, the ROCORI School District is currently served by Chair Nadine Schnettler, Vice-Chair Lynn Schurman, Clerk Lisa Demuth, Treasurer Kara Habben, Director Mike Austreng and Director Rick Bohannon.
In addition, three student representatives bring other insight and perspective to the board table. Currently Anne Howard, Alyssa Job, and Lisa Volkers serve to bring forward student perspective. We appreciate their service as well!
Please join us in recognizing Minnesota’s School Boards by saying thanks to our school board members.