After the recent passing of a referendum to add a student representative to the school board, Jamesville-DeWitt High School Senior Will Guisbond was elected to hold the position as the first ever J-D student board member, or ex-officio student representative.
In order to attain this position, J-DHS students were shown candidacy videos during their social studies classes towards the end of September, outlining the candidates and what they hope to achieve while sitting on the board. Students were later given the opportunity to vote for their preferred candidate during homeroom on Friday, September 20th.
Guisbond will have the opportunity to sit alongside the board at the majority of board meetings, contributing his, and the student body’s opinions and ideas. Despite this, Guisbond’s position differs from that of the other board member positions. Guisbond says, “The official title is ex-officio student representative, so I can’t vote. So things like the expense reports, or personal recommendations I have a say in, and I can voice my concerns if I have any, but I can’t actually raise my hand to vote. I also can’t go to executive sessions.” The school board holds executive sessions to discuss matters such as hiring decisions, personal recommendations, very specific tax levies, and legal issues.
“I want to make sure we are well represented”
“I’m hoping to bring the students a little closer to the administration and get them involved in the decision-making process” says Guisbond. The role of ex-officio student representative is to involve students’ opinions into the board of education meetings in order to accurately represent the student body’s views on various topics. Regarding whose opinions, being students, parents, or school officials, should carry the most weight in establishing school policies Guisbond says, “I think it should be a healthy balance of everyone. In my opinion the student voice has been under represented, and that’s why I was so passionate about running for this position. But everyone has their own unique perspective that they bring to the table. So making sure that we are all heard in that process, and equally, is going to be really important.”
When asked if there are any pressing issues facing the J-D school district Guisbond said, “I would say that as of now probably our security and mental health conversations and techniques. Security mainly involving issues of active shooter training and preparedness.” Guisbond plans on corresponding with school officials in order to ensure these topics are addressed and that students have a better understanding of these topics.
Involving students in the happenings of the board is the role of the student representative. They are tasked with integrating student ideas and opinions into board meetings in order to accurately portray the voice of J-DHS’s students. “I’m meeting with Dr. Smith today to discuss that [student opinions], but I’m sort of planning on, honestly hoping that people will come to me if they had a really pressing concern they want to talk about.”
“I want to make sure we are well represented,” said Guisbond. This election portrays a step forward, as this establishment of a permanent student representative allows for student opinions to be shown in the day-to-day happenings of the school and board. This step forward embodies the quote “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, as for the first time in our district’s history, a student, elected by their peers, will serve in order to share our thoughts and ideas.