Student involvement with BOEs discussed at state level

Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A model from Elizabethton City Schools is starting to garner traction across Tennessee.

Recently a piece of legislation made its way in front of Senate Education Committee and was sponsored by Sen. Jon Lundberg (R – District 4) from the Tri-Cities to push for a non-voting student liaison be part of local boards of education for the 2018-19 school year.

Having the ability to have a student involved with a Board of Education allows a perspective from another avenue compared to what’s already available, Lundberg told the Elizabethton Star Tuesday during a phone interview.

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According to the bill, “beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, the composition of each local board of education shall include a non-voting student liaison. The student liaison shall attend all meetings as a traditional school board member and provide student insight into matters discussed and voted upon by the board.”

Other pieces of the bill include that the student must be in good academic standing with the school they attend and that the board would institute a policy in what would be required for students to serve on the board.

With the bill still making its way through the proper channels, Lundberg hopes that the awareness of the bill allows BOEs across the state to start looking at the possibility of having a student liaison part of the educational process. Within ECS, the district has reaped the benefits over the past two years by having a liaison involved with the district activities.

City school officials have worked with a student liaison being part of the board during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years following up the implementation of the Bartleby Program — an award-winning school model created by Elizabethton High School students and recognized by the nationally-recognized XQ America organization.

Recent graduate Cory Fitzsimmons served as the inaugural liaison while senior Hannah Roaten is currently serving until the conclusion of this school year.

In accordance to protocol put in place by the BOE, students are elected by their peers in an election held at EHS. Once they are elected, they serve during the school year and bring different ideas and bits of information from peers, while interacting with the board on various topics.

“Elizabethton should be applauded for their efforts,” Lundberg said. “Most don’t have that in place but the school system took the initiative to make sure student representation is part of their educational process.”

Lundberg added that having students involved with the inner-workings of education allows them to receive feedback on a variety of issues, including the impacts of economic development involved with education and having feedback on different issues that may have not normally been discussed in school.

In the State House, Rep. Harold Love, Jr. (D – District 58) has his own version of the bill which is also making its way through committees.