Janesville55.1°

Janesville School Board approves letting students stay as non-voting members at meetings

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 25, 2011
— The Janesville School Board will continue to allow high school student representatives to participate in board discussions as non-voting members.

The move came in a surprising reversal from board member Kevin Murray at the board meeting Tuesday night.


Murray had proposed changing a board policy to limit the students to providing only informational reports to the board.


The policy has been in place for years, but this is the first year that a student—Jaimi Jensen of the Parker High School Student Leadership Council—has participated in board discussions.


Murray said his earlier opposition to the practice was wrong.


"I apologize to board members for raising the issue," Murray said. "I overreacted. That was inappropriate."


Murray argued in earlier meetings against student participation, saying his mother, a longtime taxpayer, didn't have the same privilege, and neither did parents or employee groups, who also have interest in board decisions.


Teachers and students objected to Murray's position at the past two board meetings.


Teacher Joe Van Rooy noted Tuesday that students are being asked to pay higher fees for sports, parking and enrollment next year.


He compared the fees to taxes and noted that a principle of American government is no taxation without representation.


Jensen told the board that students are the ones who most directly feel the effects of every board decision, especially during this year's round of budget cutting.


After hearing from teachers and students Tuesday, Murray said he had been educated on the issue.


"To put it quite frankly, you are right, and I'm wrong," Murray said.


The policy was referred to the board's policy committee. One issue unresolved is whether only Craig and Parker representatives may speak, or whether the privilege will be extended to high school students from the district's charter schools.



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