HARTFORD – High school students often provide useful perspective during debates on educational issues but that doesn’t mean the state should force local and regional officials to give them seats on school boards, Rep. John Rigby said today.
Colebrook resident Rigby does not support legislation that would do just that. A bill debated Tuesday in the House of Representatives would force local school officials to include two students on their boards, something many districts already do without prompting from Capitol leaders. Rigby, though, posed an argument echoed by many legislators.
“If school boards already offer students a seat at the table, why do we need a law?” he asked. “Local leaders will view this as yet another mandate from the state.”
Under the proposal, students would participate in meetings but would not carry voting power, nor would they play a role in executive committee sessions.
Rigby has been at the forefront of a movement to repeal state mandates—many of them unfunded—that have given headaches to local officials.
In considering the bill (H.B. 6665) one legislator asked how a district would choose students to serve on a board if it managed two high schools.
It was one of many questions asked about the proposal, which was eventually set aside by a majority party under pressure to provide answers it did not have.
“Few would argue against having students participate in discussions on issues that affect their educational experience,” Rigby said. “But if they can’t vote there’s no difference between them and any other resident, so why force districts to do this?”