I attended the Buncombe County Board of Education’s meeting on Thursday, May 4, 2006. I arrived at 6:00 p.m. for an interview with a cameraman from WLOS. He asked me questions concerning the night’s meeting, what I planned on saying, and I got the chance to clarify for once that I am not running for the position, but still would be willing to accept it if offered. As the Citizen-Times editorial wrote, if I am selected, it will provide the board an example of someone who is responsible and mature, providing them with a good first impression.
When I went into the board auditorium, Stan Alleyne, the Communications Director, commented on how well I have handled myself and he told me good luck. I signed in to speak during the public comment session, and I got to speak after about 45 minutes.
I gave the copies of my documents to the board members personally, and I went to the podium. I delivered my speech, and I provided additional information about how this is a local issue, how much support I have, and why it is necessary to have a student on the school board.
One board member, Bob Embler, asked me redundant questions about school advisory committees and if I even knew about them. I told him that, yes, I do know that schools have these committees. He asked me if I knew that there are two students on it, that the students can represent the student body there, and that the minutes are delivered to the school board. I answered all of these questions, and he asked me a question about how the student advisor would provide equal representation to all of the schools aside from his own. I told him that I specified at the last meeting one student would be selected from each high school and that panel of students would pick one to be the advisor, providing equal representation.
The representative from my school district, Richard Greene, spoke again at this meeting. He told me that he would support my proposal if I can find a way to guarantee that the student advisor would not just be sitting on the board without saying anything.
After I spoke, a local government watch dog, Jerry Rice, spoke in favor of my idea. Jerry has been recording government meetings in Buncombe County for 18 years. Jerry told the board that students are essential to the board – they are the ones that the board is supposed to be representing. He said that he supports my idea completely, and said that I have a lot of courage to stick up for something I believe in. In addition, he said that he didn’t feel that the school advisory committees provide sufficient representation, and he felt that a student advisor would not have any political motivation and would keep the board on task on what it is supposed to do.
After the meeting was adjourned, I thanked the man for speaking, and I was able to speak with him for about ten minutes. Dusty Pless came up to me and told me that he would support the idea if I can find a way to guarantee the student would actually contribute during the meetings.
So, my next steps are going to be to contact more politicians and try to get their support. I did after all, get the encouragement from four politicians. I am also going to send petitions to the other five high schools in the county to supplement the 60 signatures (including all four administrators) that I have from my school. I will contact the state board and ask them what their thoughts on the current student advisors to their board are, and I will try contacting the student advisors themselves and see what they have to say.
If I get more support from politicians, I will likely be holding a press conference to show the media the signing publicly, and to answer any questions that they may have.
I will try to get a copy of the tape from the meeting, and give it to radio stations and other news outlets to play or to listen to. As soon as I get more support and information, I will speak at the next board meeting that I am prepared for, likely in June or July.