ANWSD student rep policy seen as model

VERGENNES — A new Addison Northwest School District board policy written with the help of its student representative makes formal and increases their responsibilities. Board members last week hailed the policy as a possible template for other Vermont school systems that seek to better integrate student representatives into the work the board does.
The policy allows representatives to serve on committees and attend board retreats and in many respects act as regular board members, but not to vote, attend executive sessions or be privy to personnel matters or other sensitive legal issues.
Board Chairperson John Stroup said current student representatives Ben Huston and Reagan Kayhart helped the board’s policy committee draft the policy adopted at the Dec. 15 meeting.
Stroup said much of the work had to be done from scratch because comprehensive policies were hard to find around Vermont.
“I told Reagan and Ben I looked everywhere to find a model of student representatives in Vermont, and I could not find anything,” Stroup told the board and about 15 residents listening in on Zoom.
“And I truly believe this is something that will be not just for us, but for school districts all around who are trying to think about this, and think about it carefully, how to treat young people with dignity and the respect they deserve.”
Students will continue to be selected by a board committee that will include a student rep who is a senior. Typically there will be two reps, each of whose appointments will last until graduation.
The policy, excluding the section on selection, reads:
“The ANWSD Board of Directors purpose is to represent the entire ANWSD community in order to provide education for all students at a cost affordable to its community. Students are an integral part of that community, and we value their thoughts and opinions. Having student representatives’ voices in Board deliberations will help the ANWSD Board in making decisions. As a part of an educational system, the Board has an obligation to serve as a context for student learning. In this capacity, student representatives can develop their interests and skills in civic responsibility. Not only can student representatives provide context for Board decisions but can perform an invaluable role of communicating Board deliberations and decisions to the student body.
“ANWSD student representatives have been selected among their peers to represent the entire student body. Student representatives will work to gather information and solicit input from a wide variety of classmates. Student representatives will develop a strategy for disseminating information back to the student body. As representatives, students have a responsibility to attend to the entire District, not just their individual concerns. Good communication will be a key guiding feature of the Board and Student Representatives relationship and surprises between the Board, School administration, and student representatives will be the exception, not the norm…”

“In order to support successful Student Representation, the ANWSD Board and Student Representatives will commit to the following guidelines:
Student Representatives should seek to represent the student body as a whole and serve the entire School District.
Student Representatives will seek out input for Student Reports through student surveys, discussions with school clubs and councils, research projects, and other forms of gathering input.
Student Representatives will respect FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and refrain from mentioning any student by name in a Board meeting or otherwise.
Student Representatives will respect Board procedures for complaints (B22).
Student Representatives follow all other Board policies and meeting ground rules.
Student Representatives will attend all regular school board meetings that occur while school is in session. Since regular board meetings occur during the evening hours of a school night, the Board may grant permission for the student representatives to leave a meeting before the conclusion if the student representatives requests to do so.
Student Representatives will attend special meetings, retreats or study/education sessions if requested, but not executive sessions.
Student Representatives will review the Board agenda and materials prior to all regular Board meetings except confidential matters such as legal advice, sensitive personnel matters, negotiations information, and matters involving individual students.
Student Representatives may participate in Board discussions at regular open meetings of the Board. However, the student representative may not make any motions or vote.
Student Representatives may provide reports to the Board during an agenda item titled “Student Representative Report.” The reports will include student activities, topics and concerns from the student body to apprise the Board. Reports must be published as a hyperlink on the agenda by Friday end of day prior to the Board meeting (to Board Chair or Superintendent or designee).
Student Representatives will report Board deliberations and actions to the student body.
Student Representatives will participate in at least one student representative training session prior to participation with the Board Chair, Student Representative Board liaison, Superintendent and the High School Principal.
Student Representatives will be included in all Board communications.”

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