No students allowed onto board

The Red Deer Public School District board will not be taking on any young trustees any time soon.

The Red Deer Public School District board will not be taking on any young trustees any time soon.

Elected trustees discussed at the board’s April meeting whether there was merit to adding a student trustee to the board.

Since the late 1990s, the presence of student trustees on Ontario school boards has been legislated, and in recent years other jurisdictions have adopted policies to include student representation.

While local trustees considered the notion, board chair Bev Manning said the general take was that the division should seek the viewpoints of the many, rather than the few.

“I think we saw value in student trusteeship but we felt that there had to be some changes in legislation before that student trustee would really have an effective position on a board, and we were really looking for more broad input,” said Manning.

In Vancouver public schools, for example, student trustees are involved on school boards, but are not considered members and cannot vote on board matters.

The Red Deer division uses surveys and holds an annual student town hall to gather input from pupils. It has also started to use online engagement strategies.

At the meeting, trustees voted to direct the superintendent to investigate other methods, including focus groups, a district-wide school council, meetings with student leadership groups, and the use of social media to engage with students.

Manning said any new efforts would likely be implemented for the next school year.