The Student Voice at the board of ed
Elections at Sonoma Valley High School are finished, and from the strenuous campaigns leading to Convention 2012, three determined students emerged victorious and now eagerly await their roles as next year’s student body
I was elected last year amid similar circumstances as the high school’s Student Voice, and as such was given the responsibility of representing the student body at the monthly school board meetings. At the time, I was not sure what to expect, having never been in the leadership class, and never having physically attended a school board meeting.
As with anything in life, the meetings have high and low points for me. I enjoy listening to public comment as well as the various school reports, and the wit of the boardmembers is always entertaining. Having a position on the school board allows me to stay updated on the pursuits of the school district, and to share what I learn there with teachers and students at the high school.
The first meeting I attended as the board’s student trustee introduced me to the divisive solar panel debate, and the valid arguments presented by members of the community and by the board. I also have a front-row seat in the distressing saga of budget-cutting that haunts the district, an issue surrounded by intense frustration and sorrow. It pains me to see California continue to defund education, and strip our district’s hard-working staff of their pay and sometimes their jobs. And the problem isn’t waning; it is possible that our district could soon face another round of cuts. It seems that we can no longer rely on the state to solve this crisis, but instead must look to other sources for funding – sources such as the local community.
Though funding is increasingly problematic, the state of education in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District is encouraging. Teachers are inventive as ever, using creative techniques to present class material; new anti-gang and anti-bullying initiatives at schools such as Altimira show promising results; and, regardless of the budget cuts, there is a spirit of ingenuity, resilience, and enthusiasm throughout the district.
The information I receive by attending the board meetings is most rewarding to me. My least favorite part is actually my own job. My title implies that I should present the board with my peers’ opinions in order to spark changes that the student body wants. However, for this system to work, students must first tell me what they want stated at the board meetings and, unfortunately, they haven’t. This leaves me with nothing to do but present the board with an update on the various activities at SVHS, a report that, to me, often feels trivial and out-of-place amid the fiscal problems facing the district. I hope next year’s Student Voice can motivate the student body to have a voice.
That is my only complaint. In all other ways, I love sitting on the board and learning about the challenges our district faces and the way it functions. I have had a wonderful time as Student Voice at Sonoma Valley High, and I wish only the best for next year’s officers.