Board OKs student rep

NASHUA – When John Kelley’s youngest son, Donald, was in high school, he and his classmates had trouble getting their opinions into the ears of school officials.

Seventeen years later, when Kelley became a Nashua Board of Education member, he decided that communication between students and the school board shouldn’t be so difficult.

This fall, Kelley approached fellow board members and the student senates at Nashua High School North and South to propose adding a student representative to the existing school board. All were in favor of the idea.

Monday, the Nashua Board of Education unanimously voted to elect a student member who will have the same rights as other members except for the voting privilege.

Nashua is not the first school district to add a student representative to their school board. According to Kelley, Merrimack and Goffstown already have the position in place. Kelley said he spent time researching how other school districts handled a student representative before proposing the idea.

The student board member will be elected by a majority vote of the high school student body. The student government is responsible for deciding how to nominate and elect candidates. Kelley said students often use criteria such as grade point average and school activities to decide.

The representative will be from South this year and North next year, and will continue to alternate every year after. Students will decide if both schools or only the school nominating a representative that particular year will participate in the voting process.

Responsibilities of the student board member will include attending all school board meetings, representing both public high schools, presenting student proposals and opinions to the board, serving as a liaison between students and school officials and keeping students informed of school board business.

Board member Latha Mangipudi said the experience will be valuable because the board needs to hear what the students have to say about their education. She said students should have a voice because they are actually what the school board is about.

Mangipudi also said it will be a learning experience for the student who is elected.

“It will be a great experience for a student to be on the board and see how the board functions,” Mangipudi said.

The student representative will join the school board in January, when members hold their annual reorganization meeting. A junior will be chosen to fill the position because the representative will serve a one-year term.