School board should add a student member

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I am a junior at Coeur d’Alene High School. At the August board meeting for Coeur d’Alene Public Schools, I proposed asking a student member to serve on the school board.

I was excited to hear that this idea will be considered by the school board this month. A student representative in Coeur d’Alene would be able to make a big difference in our community by providing a student’s perspective on important decisions the school board faces. This is the right choice and one that hundreds of other school districts around the country have made.

The school system recently went through an audit, revealing the issues facing our district. Now, the school board must approve policies to address the audit’s findings. A high school student board member is a wonderful idea because students are able to express ideas for solutions that adults not currently in school are not. Students are able to see how practical and realistic certain proposals might be because they understand the school environment. After all, we live in it.

Having a student school board member will give young people in our community the opportunity to be a leader in education. Furthermore, a student on the school board is like the Plebian Council on the Roman Senate: We can represent the student body and voice its concerns just as the council forged laws for the commoners of Rome.

Many boards in Coeur d’Alene are seeking high school students, including the Child Care Commission, CDA TV Committee, the Parking Commission, Ped/Bike Committee, Urban Forestry Committee, the Parks & Recreation Commission, the Library Board and Arts Commission.

The Cd’A Press also recently announced a student advisory committee. These groups recognize the importance of a student voice in their decisions. Having a student voice on the school board that makes decisions about the place students spend the majority of their time is important.

Other successful school districts have the following rules in common regarding student school board members: student board members do not have a vote but can record an opinion to be included in the minutes for the meeting; student board members do not participate in executive sessions or any matters involving personnel decisions; student board members serve for one year and are selected by application process; and, student board members are usually seniors.

In addition to adding a student school board member, establishing a Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, which many districts have done, would provide a chance for a diverse group of students and recent graduates to also influence our education system for the better.

As one current student school board member in another district said, “School systems constantly tell students that you should care about your community and be well versed in topics and you should want to make a difference. I think that means I can take what I see in my own classroom and actually make a difference.”

I hope students in Coeur d’Alene will be offered the same opportunity to help schools in our community prepare all of our students for success.

• • •

Lilian Smith is a junior at Coeur d’Alene High School.

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