The Naples superintendent pledges to look into the legal requirements for a school representative.

Nothing like getting a prompt start.


A few hours after the close of the first day of school last week, nearly a dozen Naples high schoolers filed into the school board meeting to make a special request.


Student Kara Aymerich spoke for the group to ask the board to add a student representative to the decision-making body.


“We were concerned because we don’t feel we’re being represented,” Aymerich said of her classmates. She cited rule changes made in the last year as well as an anticipated construction project as reasons why the students wanted a voice.


Earlier this year, voters approved a series of maintenance projects that will begin in 2008. District officials plan another project a few years later; it could include not just repairs but new features to the school building.


“We wanted to have input on the project,” Aymerich said.


School Superintendent Brenda Keith applauded the students’ initiative and said the board would look into the legal issues and discuss the additional representation at a future meeting.


“I would certainly support it within the constraints of the law, if that is what the board wants to do,” Keith said. “It would bring a student voice to the board.”


The students have also set up a time to meet with the high school principal to discuss the issue.


Aymerich said she feels more than the students who showed up Wednesday night will back the proposal.


“Once we get the word out, we think a lot more people are going to support it,” she said.
State Education Law (Article 37, Section 1804) does, in fact, allow districts to establish a non-voting seat for a student on school boards, if a majority of voters approve a referendum.


The student representative can be chosen a number of ways. For example, students can vote directly for a representative; the high school principal, superintendent or school board can select the student; or a student could take office through an ex officio appointment, meaning as a result of holding another student office, such as student council president.


The student would have to be a senior who has attended the school for at least two years; he or she would be allowed to take part in all meetings or hearings except executive, or closed, sessions.