Woodford County High School junior Ryan Alvey, far right, listens during the district’s May meeting. Also pictured are Chairman Ambrose Wilson IV, Superintendent Scott Hawkins and Vice Chairwoman Debby Edelen.
At least 10 Kentucky public school districts have student board representatives, according to those districts’ policies.
Ryan Alvey, a Woodford County High School junior, has served as the district’s student board representative for one year and was recently re-elected to the post for next school year.
The school holds a meeting for all students who are interested in becoming the representative to explain the role and responsibilities. Then there’s a schoolwide election.
“It’s a very informative process,” Alvey said of serving as a student representative. “There are some things, especially some of the finances, that I don’t have a lot of insight into, I can’t share much perspective on.
“But as we’ve been talking about the possibility of a new high school and what that means for the students, the staff and the community, I think I’ve been able to provide students with some information as well as the board as we consider our options and discuss different solutions.”
Gallatin County Superintendent Larry Hammond said having a liaison between the board and the students is a positive aspect for districts.
“They get a taste, a feel for community service,” he said. “They can go back and share their experiences within the school. But community service itself, I think it gives them a feel for that. Even the fact that they’re elected might even persuade them to want to be politicians one day or not to be one because they see the good and the challenging. Not everyone is pleased with every decision.”
Hammond said his board seeks input from the student, especially on issues relevant to instructional choices.
“The student board member has a tendency to cause the adults in the crowd – board members, superintendent and everyone else – to really look at our purpose and constantly remind ourselves the decisions we make are for the good of those students,” he said. “It keeps you focused.”
Alvey also serves on the Woodford County’s steering committee for the new high school.
In his time on the board, Alvey said he’s been able to inform the board about students’ concerns that members may not be aware of.
“I’ve let them know when there’s a significant issue I saw arising in our school or our community,” he said. Last fall, Alvey told the board about students’ concerns about a shortage of engineering teachers at the school.
“I thought that was important for our school and our county and our state,” he said.
Though Alvey participates in the meetings, he can’t cast a vote. But that doesn’t lessen his interest, he said.
“I think it’s for the best that I can’t vote. I understand why I can’t vote and I think that it definitely helps that I can provide them with information. There are times when they’ve noted that the information I’ve added contributed to what their decision was.”
“I’m glad I can’t vote in the sense that it can get a little over my head or a little overwhelming,” he said. “So, I do what I can to let them know and I trust them with their decision.”