Board meets with youth advisory council

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 5/16/01.

Murals in classrooms, bigger desks, better food service, and fewer potholes were suggestions student advisory council members brought to the Paynesville Area School Board last week.

The board met at a special time - on Tuesday afternoon, May 8 - in order to visit with the students and gain insight from them on how the schools are functioning.

The board urged students to pursue the idea of painting more murals on classroom walls. The high school currently has one social science room with a mural at the back. High school principal John Janotta said he would be happy to have more, if the art teacher were involved in the planning. "It adds ownership to the school building," he said.

Bigger desks are needed in certain classrooms, said Maria Janotta, a junior representative for the students. In some cases, room for a book, calculator, and notebook is impossible, added Susie Swyter, a sophomore representative.

John Janotta said the high school orders desks or tables for rooms at the request of the teacher.

Complaints about the food service centered around having a greater variety of meals and choices. They also complained that some dishes, like taco salads, were not served in proportion, with too much of one ingredient and not enough of another.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell noted that toward the end of the year the school needs to use up its supplies, which might be a cause of some repetitiveness. The board did direct Caldwell to ask the food service department if the redundancy was caused by ordering too much of one thing or by receiving a large amount of certain food items from the government.

The board asked the students about food waste in the middle and high school lunchrooms and were told that some items were not popular and that students had to take a certain amount of food - even if not wanted - to meet serving guidelines.

The potholes in the parking lots should be fixed this spring or summer, according to Caldwell. More and more students are driving to school, either for extracurricular activities, for after school jobs, or to be cool, pointed out Pat Flanders, school board chairman.

The board and students also talked about the Profile of Learning. The students said the rush to get packages done was on again this spring. "I think they cram too many in at one time," said Ann Stalboerger, a sophomore representative.

Board member Deb Glenz lamented that the packages weren't integrated into the curriculum better. "Basically, the whole idea of imbedding them in the curriculum went right out the window," she said.

Middle school principal Deb Gillman said the schools are working on improving the integration of the Profiles into the classroom.

Members of the student advisory council present last week were: sixth graders Chelsey Kalkbrenner and Randy Leyendecker, seventh graders Shawn Reinke and Laura Weidner, eighth graders Mike Mueller and Ashley Spanier, sophomores Susie Swyter and Ann Stalboerger, and junior Maria Janotta.

Toward the end of the meeting, board member Maurice Dosdall suggested replacing the student advisory council with a permanent, nonvoting student member on the school board. This would provide student input on a more regular basis, Dosdall felt.

The most likely student candidate would be the student council president each year.

Flanders said the student advisory council - which meets with the board in the fall and spring - provides very valuable contact and discussion. He would hate to lose it.

Glenz said the school board could do both - have a student advisory council and have a permanent student member.

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