School Committee talks plans for student advisory board

Jan 11, 2022

In an effort to get a better perspective of how school issues affect students, the Dartmouth School Committee made steps towards instituting a student advisory committee at its Jan. 10 meeting.

The committee would be made up of five students from the high school level who would attend School Committee meetings and provide constructive feedback when warranted.

“Personally, I think we should be moving forward on this,” Committee Member Chris Oliver said. “I think one way or another it needs to happen.”

Other committee members agreed, but had opinions on how students should be chosen for the position and which grade levels should be eligible.

Members said that they would like to see the advisory committee members chosen at the end of each school year to allow some time to bring them up to speed over the summer.

But that would also make it difficult to include freshmen because they would still be in middle school at the time when members are chosen.

Seniors would be ineligible because they would be graduating before the start of their term.

“It might make sense not to have representation from the freshman class since they’re still learning the ropes,” Committee Chair Shannon Jenkins said.

Meanwhile, Committee Member John Nunes wanted to make sure that the students chosen would take the position seriously.

“I just want to make sure this isn’t a popularity contest because this is not a job to take lightly,” he said. “We’ve had student representatives that would spend the whole meeting here and they would… literally, no disrespect… they would be bumps on a log. You’d ask them a question and you’d get a deer-in-the-headlights look.”

Ultimately, the committee decided to consult with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and their peers in the Worcester School Committee to see how other districts have managed the challenge of picking student representatives.

Vice Chair Mary Waite was also appointed to be the student outreach coordinator, in charge of spearheading the creation of the student committee and acting as a liaison between the two committees once it is created.