BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — One California bill can provide the opportunity for a school board to actually include a student. So this coming Monday, the Kern High School District Board of Trustees will hear a presentation that includes a former student about their plans for getting more representation.
While Salem Palmer recently graduated he learned about this bill at a conference and realized that his peers were not aware of the district’s governing body. Now he is looking to make sure students' voices are heard across the board.
“With 40,000 students, we are the majority. We are being represented but we have no voice and really no say.”
That’s why the former Centennial High student and a number of students involved with Project Citizen are looking to create change.
“We really want this to affect the future generations of the high school district,” said Palmer.
And one great way to do that according to Palmer, is through the school board.
“We found that out of almost 2,000 students that took the survey from all the school sites, that 90 percent of them didn’t know who the trustees were and had no idea who was representing this.”
A California bill from 2017, allows the chance for a student to join a board. First, a petition of 500 student signatures is needed, which was reached a few months ago. Now, it will be presented to the KHSD board on Monday.
Joseph Biron who advises Project Serve believes it’s important for students to understand the school system.
“I think it's important that students understand how it works and the different levels of governments.”
Palmer says three different models will be presented: a presidential model, a parliamentarian model, and a middle ground model, to suggest how they believe students should be elected for the role.
“We want a student who serves as a liaison between students and the board so the board knows the issues students are facing and what our problems are and how we can fix them. Just being that connection.”
Palmer says after the election process a student should be on the board by next school year. The student will be considered a full member of the board and they will have what's called preferential voting rights. Meaning they will vote and have some weight, but the way the law works, it will not count towards the final tally of the vote.