A proposal for school boards to have student trustees was voted down at a recent conference of school board trustees, but Holy Family trustees feel this issue will be brought back again and should be dealt with now.
(In the photo above, the Holy Family board received gifts of appreciation from central office administration, as part of Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week.)
The issue arose at the monthly meeting for the Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division on Wednesday evening, after it was noted that the board from North Battleford was quite upset that it got voted down, after they sponsored a resolution to have student trustees on local school boards.
“It got voted down because it confused everybody,” said board chair Bruno Tuchscherer.
Education director Gwen Keith said in spite of that vote, there seems to be pressure being put around the province to be allowing student trustees.
“I think it’s different in rural areas than in urban ones,” she added.
“I like the idea of having students involved,” said trustee Kathie Yanko. “It’s not going to be scary. We do have students who are adventurous with their education.”
Estevan trustee Bob Cossette said he doubted a student would want to come up all the way to Weyburn for a board meeting, and suggested having a Grade 9 student from St. Michael School in Weyburn do it, if any were interested.
Trustee Karen Melle suggested a student would be more energized or motivated to do it if matters pertained to their own school, but at the board level, they look at “the big picture” of the school division as a whole.
“This is a policy board, so it may not be specific to a community,” agreed trustee Jerome Sidloski.
Yanko pointed out that students today are smart and do understand policies, because “that’s their world. I could see a Grade 11 or 12 student sitting here.”
Tuchscherer noted this is part of Holy Family’s problem, as they do not have any students past Grade 9.
“It could be one of our former students in high school,” suggested Jerome Sidloski.
“If it was a high school student, they could get more excited about it than a Grade 8 or 9 student. A Grade 8 or 9 student might be intimidated to come here and understand everything,” said Cossette.
Melle pointed out an important issue, as students would have to understand that a school board discusses confidential issues for which they go in-camera to discuss, such as of personnel issues.
Keith noted that on school boards where student trustees sit in, they have very clear rules set out for them, but asked, who on the board would be taking time out to explain policies or decisions when they come up at a board meeting?
“There might be students who want that opportunity,” said Yanko.
“I think this is something that’s going to come back at convention for sure. North Battleford got quite upset when they were voted down,” said Tuchscherer.
“There’s no reason why North Battleford can’t have someone come to the meetings as observers and learn about what’s going on,” suggested Jerome Sidloski.
Tuchscherer noted some larger boards have students attending, and asked if they might have information on what role the students can have at a board meeting.
Keith agreed that it would be good to make some inquiries and find out what information or rules other boards have for student trustees, and will get back to the board with that information.