The Annual Conference of the Missouri School Boards’ Association was held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 – Oct. 1, at Osage Beach, Mo., and during the conference, Ava R-I School Board President Randy Spurlock gave a presentation to a room overflowing with conference attendees, school board members and administrators from around the state. Spurlock’s presentation, Practical Student Governance, outlined the student school board initiative the Ava board implemented in 2014.
Spurlock explained the benefits of having a “Student Board Member” sitting at the board table during open sessions of each monthly school board meeting, and how the program works in Ava, Mo. Alongside Spurlock were high school Principal Teresa Nash, and Logan Little, the current student board member and junior at Ava High School. Nash and Little were on hand to answer questions and further discuss positive influences the student representative program has made at Ava schools.
“Missouri School Board Members make up the largest body of elected officials in the state. We are unpaid and donate our time because of our students,” Spurlock stated. “If it were not for the students we would have no reason to pay monthly bills, hire teachers, negotiate contracts, or do the many other things school board members have to do and research issues that we have to act on. Having a student board member replaces a missing link in the chain that we surely need to help us see the effects of our service for our student body.”
Ava’s first student school board member was Lacy Diel who is a senior this year; she was elected by the high school student body for the 2015 term. Logan Little was elected representative in 2016. The election process will be held again next month to determine the student representa-tive for 2017.
Spurlock also stated that many times he relies on the student board member to answer questions or give prepared reports to the board. He said occasionally he gives homework by asking the student to contact a state legislator or congressman to research an issue, and then later, during the next board session, the student will explain why the issue, like a later school start date, will not work for our district.
At the conference, Ava’s current student rep, Logan Little, shared specific information and details about recently contacting legislators, the responses he received, and how he reports to the board. Little also told how he canvasses the student body at all grade levels, and brings pertinent questions and information back to the board.
Spurlock said, “I believe we raised a lot of interest in our program, and hopefully, others will follow us. Currently, I only know of two other school districts in Missouri that have a program similar to ours.”