Friday, July 18, 2014

School board concedes policy mistake

Trustees table action on student board representative proposal

Express Staff Writer

Shawn Bennion

     The Blaine County School District board of trustees has tabled action on establishing a student board representative, acknowledging at a Tuesday board meeting that it was moving too quickly on the proposal and inadvertently violating district policy.

     “In kind of looking at this, I found a policy that we have as a district on how to make policy that I was previously unaware of,” said board Chairman Shawn Bennion. “In our haste to move forward and add a student board representative, a student board liaison, it was an oversight on my part and I apologize for that.”

     Bennion was referring to policy 203.2, entitled “Formulation and Revision of Policy.” The policy provides that the school board “establishes all policies and rules for the operation of the schools only after considering the recommendation of the superintendent and only after the superintendent has furnished adequate information supporting those recommendations.”

     The policy further provides that prior to making a recommendation that the superintendent provide review and receive comment from the assistant superintendent, the president of the Blaine County Education Association and a member of the school board.

     Bennion acknowledged those steps had not been taken and referred the issue to new Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes for review and recommendation.

     “As a board, we anticipate and expect others to follow our policy,” Bennion said. “We expect students to follow our policy, and as a board I need to take ownership that we did not follow our own policy and I apologize for that.”

     The proposal for establishing a “student board representative and student board liaisons” was listed on the meeting agenda as a “discussion/action” item. Bennion said the board is still interested in implementing the plan but will do so only after district policy is followed.

     The school board has been considering the proposal for several months. It was first introduced to the board at a meeting in April by Trustee Elizabeth Schwerdtle.

     “There’s a lot of benefit to this,” Schwerdtle said at Tuesday’s meeting. “I think it’s a win-win for the kids involved, for the board and for the district as a whole.”

     The proposed policy provides that a non-voting student representative be appointed to the board to engage in board discussions and to provide recommendations. With the intent that all three of the district’s high schools—Wood River High School, Silver Creek High School and Carey High School—participate in the process, the policy further provides for the establishment of two student board liaisons, who would be appointed from the two schools not represented by the student board representative.

     Student representatives and liaisons would be required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average, be either juniors or seniors and be in compliance with district policy concerning student conduct.

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