BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools recently formed a student advisory team, to offer insights into issues affecting schools and students. Superintendent Shay Mikalson says the group of 11 middle and high school students represent the 18,000 kids across the district. "We have unbelievable students that are amazing leaders and amazing thinkers. And, for me to get a snapshot of those students across our district, one: is extremely valuable for me when I’m weighing decisions and wanting multiple perspectives. But, also really empowering this group to lead with their voice in terms of what things they see we need to be improving."
Mikalson has met with the group once, so far. He tells KBND News, "We didn’t finalize any specific agendas moving forward for next year, but [things could go] all the way down for how do we keep making sure that kids have these great rigorous options? How do we make sure that we’re using technology to enhance learning and not be a distraction? How do we make sure our schools are as safe and welcoming as we’d all want them to be? The conversation was really rich and diverse."
The idea came from a similar group Mikalson relied on as principal. But, he says, this group could end up influencing future district decisions. "I think it could result in small changes that we do, just at the building level or classroom level or perspective; or it could drive change in terms of what we think we need to do around policy. But, at the end of the day, it’s really trying to make sure our school system know our students by their name, their strengths and their need. And, there’s no better way to do that than to make sure student voice is in as many decisions as we can." The advisory team expects to meet over the summer to decide on two or three priorities to focus on in the next academic year.