The Perry County School Board had a long discussion about an upcoming change to the school board structure at its latest meeting on Sept. 13. During the summer, the board approved having a student representative on the board to sit in on monthly regular meetings.
Before the meeting on Wednesday, the board met with students on how to select this student representative and came away with several talking points, especially when it came to the election process.
Perryville High School juniors have the opportunity to apply for the new student representative position on the Board of Education at Perry County School District 32. The application period is open through Sept. 25, 2023. Applications can be found at the school website along with eligibility requirements and procedures. Applications are also available in the high school lobby. The application requires the submission of a 400-500 word essay on the importance of including student voices in matters concerning our schools, along with two letters of reference, one of which must be from a PHS teacher or staff member.
Applications will be reviewed by the selection committee and narrowed to a list of a maximum of four candidates to create the ballot. Each candidate will submit a 30-60-second video introducing themselves to the student body, which will be played during Advisory Class on Friday, Oct. 6, and followed immediately by the election. The new Student Representative will become a member of the PHS Student Council and perform duties during that class time. They will be introduced to the Board of Education at the regular board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. This first student representative will serve through June 2024, and is required to attend the open session of the monthly Board meeting on the second Wednesday of each month. The student representative will be assigned a mentor in the Central Office to assist them in becoming familiar with board policies and processes and the completion of their other duties.
The main concern was the voting process would be a popularity contest and would not accurately portray the interests of the entire student body, and while board member Jamie Robinson understands this concern, he also empathizes with the students.
“If there is a weighted process with a selection committee and we pick the person ourselves, then do the students feel like they had a say in the process,” Robinson said. “I want to make sure their vote is counted. While some may not be voting for the right reasons, will the students take offense to us choosing for them?”
After a lengthy discussion, it was decided to keep the election process as originally stated.