Two fresh faces have been in attendance at recent Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors meetings.
Alongside district administrators and elected board members are two student representatives selected to serve on the board with the goal of increasing student engagement. The student representatives also hope to provide a direct line of communication to how board decisions could impact students in the district.
“Having students on the board serving as representatives provides us with a greater understanding of how board decisions affect students,” BGPS Superintendent Mark Ross said in a news release. “They provide input on a variety of important decisions, including adopting the annual budget, making adjustments to school boundaries, policy adoption and curriculum approvals. They’re also able to initiate new policy proposals aimed at improving student experiences.”
The collaboration with students has also brought attention from around the state to the BGPS Board of Directors. Directors received a Board of Distinction award last week at the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) annual conference in Bellevue. The award was given to the board for its efforts to involve stakeholders.
Board members Troy McCoy and Monty Anderson, along with student representative Sidnie Boadwine and superintendent Mark Ross, gave a presentation on the district’s innovative and inclusive board structure.
One example of a new policy proposal that improved student experience was the request to allow cap decorations at graduations. Students at Prairie High School approached their representative about getting the rules changed. After hearing from a student representative, the board asked student leaders at all high schools to collaborate on parameters that would allow students to decorate their caps.
“We have so many incredible students in our district, and it’s an honor to ensure they have a seat at the table and a voice to air their concerns,” Board President McCoy said in the release. “The student representatives are hard working, mature beyond their years, and provide an invaluable service for Battle Ground Schools.”
This year’s student representatives are Battle Ground High School senior Sidnie Boadwine and junior Addelynn Smith. They were selected based on a policy that the board developed two years ago, Policy 1250. After the board approved Policy 1250, each high school in the district was tasked with creating its own process for nominating student representatives. The two comprehensive high schools in the BGPS district, Battle Ground and Prairie high schools, can select up to two nominees each, while the alternative high schools Summit View, CAM Academy and River HomeLink may select one candidate each. To be eligible for nomination, a representative must be a sophomore or older and have at least a 2.5 grade point average.
“One student representative is a junior, and the other is a senior to ensure that we always have an experienced student rep on the board to help mentor the new rep,” Battle Ground’s Deputy Superintendent Denny Waters said in the release. “We’ve been impressed by the leadership and initiative shown by the student reps, and we are pleased to have direct representation for our student populations.”
“Being on the school board provides an opportunity for students to grow personally and gain valuable experience and perspective,” Waters said in the release. “They learn public speaking and listening skills, get experience accepting and valuing different opinions and ideas, and gain an understanding of the complexities of operating a school district.”
Student representatives on the board are expected to attend all meetings and receive all regular meeting agendas and material (excluding executive session material). They are also expected to contribute to board discussions, serve as liaisons for the student body and report to their peers about the work of the board. They do not attend executive sessions, make motions during meetings, hold board offices or vote.
“I learned so much about finance and gained a deeper knowledge about all the ins and outs of what it takes to run a school district,” Jayson Maddux, a 2019 graduate of Prairie High School who completed his term as student representative last year, said in the release. “When you can put ‘represented more than 13,000 students’ on your resume, you can’t help but be proud of yourself and grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given.”