Student and teacher representatives will be added to the Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) Board of Trustees, the board decided on Feb. 3 at its monthly meeting in the MPR. The board voted to raise the number of board members to 9 to 12 trustees, a change from the existing 9 to 11 members, to accommodate the recommendations on board composition that the Personnel Committee presented.
Vice President Leigh Cross and Trustee Pat Gannon, both members of the Personnel Committee, spoke about the changes. They explained that the student will act solely as an advisor to the board and will not be able to vote. The teacher, however, will have the power to vote as a member but their vote will be limited when it comes to certain topics such as budgeting and personnel issues. Both the teacher and student representative will be elected by their peers.
One of the main advocates for the increased board size was Trustee Camilla Townsend who said that the size should increase to allow for diversity on the board, another goal of the Personnel Committee.
To compromise with the original recommendations of the Personnel Committee and Townsend’s suggestions, Trustee John Kostrencich recommended swelling the number to 13, and as members of the board resign, not filling these vacancies, until there are only 11.
“I feel that it would give a good perspective on what the teachers and students do in the classroom to the board members on everyday school activities,” said Lead Science Teacher Tim Dikdan when asked what he thought of student and teacher representatives on the Board of Trustees. “Having a more rounded perspective is better. It will allow for the difference of perspective.”
During the meeting, Dikdan suggested that these two new representatives should act more like a liaison between the board and student body and faculty.
“We think [teacher and student representation] is important and we’d like to improve it,” said Gannon. “I think it’s important that students get the opportunity to understand what the adults that are making policy decisions are thinking, so we think it’s important that the board understand what the students are thinking along the way.”
Along with these advantages, students recognize that there are possible disadvantages with the integration of a student and teacher on the board.
“One possible disadvantage could be if the representative doesn’t represent the teachers or students accurately,” said senior Omar Bojorquez.
The board also discussed qualifications and guidelines each new member should have and follow. All members agreed that members of the board must be committed. The Trustees will hold an annual evaluation in February in which they will review their performance and discuss how they can improve.
The Personnel Committee created their recommendations by benchmarking to six other charter schools the committee contacted regarding board composition. The next board meeting will take place March 2 in the MPR at 5pm.