Paducah school board welcomes student representatives

PTHS juniors Dasia Garland (left) and Synia Shawlaster address the Paducah Independent School District Board Monday at the students’ first meeting as student board representatives. Their primary function is to gather input from K-12 students and bring that information to board meetings.

The Paducah Independent School District Board welcomed its first two student board members at its meeting on Monday, an effort to keep board members apprised of student input and opinion.

Juniors Dasia Garland and Synia Shawlaster will take part in board meetings when it is in open session throughout the school year. A big part of their role is to gather input from students at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels.

The board approved the second reading of the change of policy at its May 17 meeting that would allow two students to take part as board representatives each year.

The student representatives will be nonvoting members of the board, but may participate in discussion of issues. They must be sophomores or juniors at Paducah Tilghman High School in the year they would serve and must maintain a grade-point average of 2.5 or better before their election and during their time of service.

They must be able to attend all board meetings and be available to meet with middle school and elementary school students from the Superintendent’s Advisory Council as a liaison for student voice to the board.

The election of student board representatives takes place in the April before their term begins in July.

Both student representatives were excited for the opportunity to represent students and enjoyed their first board meeting.

“There were a lot of things to talk about,” Shawlaster said after the meeting. “It was nice to hear what goes on.”

She said being chosen to represent students was a great opportunity.

“That’s why I wanted to be elected to this position: to give students a voice and to let them know that they have the opportunity to speak up for themselves.”

“I feel like — me looking from a student perspective — it was really exciting just to see how it works, because I’ve never been to a board meeting,” Garland said after the meeting. “I was just really exited to see how our education is being handled.”

She said she was “in shock” to learn she was selected as a student board representative.

“I used to be interviewed by teachers coming back to tell the board about the students’ point of view about how we feel about school,” she said. “Now, I get to go back and do that for the younger students.

“I’m looking forward to giving students that are minorities a voice because oftentimes, we feel that we don’t. I just want to be that person, to be able to stand up and get students more involved in student board meetings.”

Garland and Shawlaster were elected by PTHS freshmen, sophomores and juniors in the 2020-21 school year from a slate of seven applicants for the position.

Other actions taken at the meeting included:

• The board approved a $2,000 supplement for the position of coach for a new eSports team at Paducah Tilghman High School. The PTHS Site-Based Decision-Making Council approved the position on June 24.

• The board approved the 2021-22 salary schedules for Head Start, transportation and substitute staff.

• The board approved the reappointment of Lisa Chappell as board secretary, Angela Copeland as board treasurer and Nicholas Holland as its attorney of record for the 2021-22 year.

The Paducah Independent School District Board meets regularly at 5 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the Paducah Innovation Hub.

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