Board member provides students a voice

Beekmantown Central School has a student on the schoo board

Charles Simpson, a senior at Beekmantown Central School, is the student representative on the school board.

Charles Simpson, a senior at Beekmantown Central School, is the student representative on the school board. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

— Beekmantown Central School, like all districts, isn’t immune to controversy from time to time.

But having a student representative on hand to provide the “low-down” is helpful in not only quelling anger over various issues, but in helping steer the school board in the right direction.

That is one of the reasons the district has a student school board member.

“I am happy to continue with the tradition we started in 2004-05,” said Superintendent Scott Amo.

The student council president automatically become the students’ representative on the board, and this school year it is senior Charles Simpson. The student participates in board meetings as a non-voting member of the group.

“It’s been eye opening,” Simpson said. “I get to see the inner workings of the school board as well as the public’s reaction.”

This year has been rocky at times with the school district operating under a contingency budget.

Last may, district voters passed the 2011-12 spending plan, but there was a mistake with a voting machine which led to a re-vote. Voters defeated the spending plan during the re-vote and school officials adopted a contingency budget which carries significant limitations in the way the district can spend money and operate school facilities.

“This has given me an idea of what the board controls, and I have learned that the board has to react to a lot that is mandated by the state,” Simpson said. “It makes me view their job differently. Their hands are tied in a lot of areas.”

He has watched as many issues have been brought up by the board and the public, which has been intensely critical of school officials at times.

In some regards, the criticism is warranted, Simpson said, but it also is not at times. Still, he believes it is good that people are interested in what is happening at their school.

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