Associated Student Body leadership attends Northshore school-board forum to address options for district improvement

The Associated Student Body leadership for Inglemoor, Bothell, Woodinville and Secondary Academy for Success (SAS) schools received a unique opportunity on March 27 when they attended a Northshore school-board forum at the district offices in Bothell.

During the forum, students discussed the district’s policies as it relates to four-year high schools; harassment, intimidation and bullying; technology; community service and the rigor and relevance of school curricula.

“The school board wants to hear from kids,” Superintendent Larry Francois said. “They hear a lot from adults. They hear a lot from administrators. They hear a lot from teachers… and the one group they don’t often hear a lot from is students, and really, that’s why we have the school system — it’s to serve students.”

The first of its kind, the forum was intended to form a bond with the school board and the students.

“There’s lots of decisions that get made at the district,” board member Todd Banks said. “Its nice to touch base with the kids to find out how decisions are affecting them and if we’re achieving what we want to achieve.”

First on the day’s agenda was the four-year high school. The Northshore School District is one of three districts in the state that still maintains a three-year high school.  In light of this, the school board is now listening to discussions on whether Northshore should adopt the four-year model.

“Ninth-graders in the high school would be a little bit better prepared and more informed about such topics as post-secondary careers and colleges,” Woodinville junior Matt Spencer said.

The rest of the panel agreed with Spencer’s sentiments.

By adopting the four-year model, “we can have everyone on the same equal level of togetherness because we’re a community and we need to act that way,” SAS freshman and leadership council member Kobi Robinson said.

“It’s a financial and a logistical issue more than a philosophical issue,” board member Sandy Hayes said. “We have two high schools that do not have space for 500 more kids. We cannot move a whole grade level into Bothell or Inglemoor.”

However, putting an end to harassment, intimidation and bullying is well within the districts financial and logistical parameters.

“We go into classrooms and talk to students,” Inglemoor senior and ASB assistant coordinator Ellie Swanson said. “It’s a lot more effective to spread a message student to student versus administration to student. Students can relate, and it seems more personal.”

The technology panel felt a more personal note could be struck if the district decided to alter its policy on wireless networks.

“We’d really like to see incorporated a student wireless network,” activities coordinator and chair of the technology panel, senior Ryan Hatchtel said. “There have been numerous times where there’s been a piece of information I’d like to look up, but I’m not able to because I’m not able to get onto the wireless.”

The district’s decision to limit wireless access has long been a source of woe for students, but administrators have held fast to their positions. Still, board members appeared receptive.

“The suggestions on how to improve technology was fascinating,” board member Julia Lacey said.

Fourth on the agenda was community service. Each school recounted to the board their respective activities. Inglemoor highlighted its holiday giving campaign, Bothell its March of Dimes campaign. Woodinville said students read to elementary schoolers annually on Dr. Suess Day and SAS elucidated their yearly project to plant trees on a local farm.

Rounding out the day was the Bothell-led discussion on rigor and relevance of school curricula.

“In order to change the rigor and relevance for high schools, we think it is important to strengthen our communication,” Bothell senior Hannah Thomas said.

Overall, the board members seemed to consider the day a success.

“I just thought this was an excellent use of time,” Banks said. “This is probably one of the best days we’ve had.”

Austin Wright-Pettibone is an Inglemoor High senior.

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