State School Board appoints inaugural student advisory council

State School Board appoints inaugural student advisory council

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SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Utah high school students will advise the elected Utah State Board of Education.

The Utah State Board of Education voted Thursday to appoint 15 students to the inaugural Student Advisory Council as well as student adviser to the group, Kate De Groote, a senior at Skyline High School. De Groote proposed the idea to State School Board member Linda Hansen earlier this year.

Hansen took the proposal to the board, which agreed to create a student advisory board along with a student adviser.

Hansen said the high school juniors and seniors who applied for the advisory council positions were "amazing" candidates.

"These kids are going to change the world. I think they're going to do great things in advising us as members of the board," said Hansen.

Board member Joel Wright questioned the value of the student input versus the time and resources that would be required to support the advisory council.

"I'm afraid this is going to become a major distraction and take time from our staff and our board that we just don't have, and it's not worth the added value," he said. Wright cast the lone vote against the 16 appointments.

Appointed students attend charter and traditional schools and represent diverse backgrounds. They expressed interest in issues such as mental health and bullying, racism and discrimination, access to STEM and technology, homelessness, LGBTQ challenges, students with disabilities, college readiness and school funding.

With the exception of De Groote, the appointees represent each of the State School Board districts.

Council members, by board district, include:

  • Rachel Dikwa-Nkrumah Yeobah, Intech Collegiate High School, Logan
  • Natalie Quinn, Weber High School, Pleasant View
  • Thanh Le, Taylorsville High School
  • Mckenzie Leininger, Bonneville High School, Washington Terrace
  • Max Eiting, Bountiful High School
  • Rylee Taylor, Olympus High School, Holladay
  • Daniel Bernhardt, Park City High School
  • Alexandria Hong, Skyline High School, Millcreek
  • Treyton Shumway, Lehi High School
  • Sanjana Kargi, Beehive Science and Technology Academy, Sandy
  • Allie Cordero, Summit Academy High School, Bluffdale
  • Aspen Meldrum, Walden School of Liberal Arts, Provo
  • Brendan Murphy, Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, Lindon
  • Mayzie Talbot, North Sanpete High School, Mount Mt. Pleasant
  • Gracia Allen, Cedar High School, Cedar City

The student advisory council appointed by State Board of Education includes 11th-graders and 12th-graders. The seniors will serve one term while the juniors would be asked to serve two to help with the continuity of the council.

Students served on some local school boards in Utah, but the state-level student advisory council is the first of its kind in Utah.

The Salt Lake City Board of Education, for example, has had a nonvoting student member who serves for one year each for at least 25 years.

Nationally, states take varying approaches to student participation in state school board processes. Some have advisory groups while other select student board members that have full voting rights.

In Maryland, the student board member is appointed by the governor and the appointment is confirmed by the state Senate. The student can vote on most matters except employee disciplinary matters or certain appeals.

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Marjorie Cortez


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