The Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts differ on how to bring the voices of young people into school-board-level conversations.
Minneapolis has a student member on its board who cannot vote but who last week was in the thick of a discussion critical of a company that supplied books that many people found offensive.
That same night the St. Paul school board took its first step toward adding student voices to its decisions by giving committee approval to the creation of a student advisory team through which officials would work to get input on major efforts like a proposal to push back high school start times.
Board Member Keith Hardy, who sat on a task force that studied the matter, said the task force thought it best not to tap just one student but a variety of them, including not just "high-fliers," he said, but perhaps a student who struggles or another who is homeless or in transitional housing.
"We want a range," he said.
Hardy added that district leaders would not go to the team alone for advice on issues, but would call upon it to help gather input from the broader student community, perhaps though iPads or other devices. As such, team members would partner with the board and district administration as liaisons to their peers, he said.
The board hopes to have the team operating this fall. How many members it has and how much it costs are among questions to be resolved before the board takes final action on the plan on Sept. 22.