Boynton gets on board as new student representative for BAHS
Belfast — Maylinda Boynton is a junior at Belfast Area High School who describes herself as someone who likes to stay busy, and the latest challenge she is taking on promises to keep her date book filled while also teaching her about the way a school board operates.
At the last meeting of the Regional School Unit 20 Board of Directors March 11, Board Chairman Tony Bagley introduced Boynton as a new student representative to the board.
Boynton, who is no stranger to school board meetings as she has attended them with her family in the past, said she listened with interest to a recent board discussion regarding a need for student representatives. Boynton learned at that time that the board had approved a policy that would allow for student representation a couple of years ago, but directors stated no students expressed an interest in taking on the job.
After speaking with her parents, Dana and Susan Boynton of Belfast, and hashing out the idea with some of her teachers, Boynton said she decided to go for it as it seemed to fit well with her career aspirations.
"I want to major in political science," said Boynton during an interview with The Republican Journal Thursday, March 20.
And she said her advisory role with the board dovetails with some of the school-centered activities in which she's always enjoyed participating.
"I've always participated in student government from when I was in the sixth grade, and I've always found it's my favorite activity that I've done," she said.
In that role, Boynton said, she and her fellow student representatives support the local soup kitchen, conduct fundraisers for school events and help organize school wide activities like the annual week-long homecoming celebration.
Boynton is also active in the BAHS band and chorus, and she's played the tuba for the last four years.
In addition, Boynton participates in her school peer leadership program, is a member of both Footlights and the Arts Boosters and she plays tennis in the spring.
As for her newest role with the RSU 20 board, Boynton said she wants to give students a voice in the decision-making process.
"I'm looking forward to making a difference, and helping to keep the programs going that we feel are important," she said. "Oftentimes, they don't include the students' say in stuff."
The word is still getting out about Boynton's new responsibility, but Boynton said students and staff have already approached her to discuss their concerns.
To-date, Boynton said the biggest worry on the minds of students and staff is school consolidation. While the board agreed to put three school consolidation proposals on the back burner earlier this year, Boynton said the fears associated with the proposals still remain.
"That's the biggest thing the students and staff have talked to me about so far," she said.
Boynton said she is enthusiastic about learning more about how a school board operates, especially when it comes to building a budget.
"I'm interested to see how they decide how the funding goes into each of the schools," she said.
When she first broached the idea of serving as a student representative, Boynton said her dad initially raised concerns about how difficult it can be to take on such a role when some in the public disagree with a board decision. But Boynton said she is prepared for the challenge, largely because she is committed to listening to all concerns brought to her attention and to bringing all that she learns from her fellow students and BAHS staff to the board.
"It is going to be difficult, keeping school and that separate, and trying to be open to everyone's ideas," she said.
According to the district's policy regarding student representation, one student from each of the high schools in the district may serve in that capacity. The policy states that "they may fully participate in meetings by questioning presenters and discussing issues." The student board members receive all materials presented to directors except those related to closed sessions or are of a confidential nature, and advisory votes cast by each student member will be recorded in the minutes of each meeting. Each student member is also invited to sit on one board or district committee of their choice, with the excluding the personnel and negotiations committee.
Bagley said Monday morning, March 24 that while Boynton, as a student, cannot cast an official vote, she will be a valuable advocate for the student body at BAHS.
"She's basically a voice for the students," he said.
Bagley said the former School Administrative District 56 Board of Directors had student representatives for a time, but that eventually "fizzled out" and no other students had stepped up to take the positions since then.
"This is the first time we've had any [student representatives] since we formed the RSU," said Bagley.
As of Monday morning, Bagley said the board is still seeking a student representative from Searsport District High School but that he is hopeful a student from that school will come forward to serve.
Boynton said she is excited about getting started.
"I'd like people, community members, to come to me with their ideas," she said.
Boynton can be reached via email at email@example.com.