School board entertains idea of student rep.

MARSHALL – After newest board member Curt Kovash brought the idea forward for discussion at the Marshall Public School work session meeting Monday, the board informally decided to pursue the possibility of having student representation on the school board in the future.

“It seems like a great thing to do,” Kovash said. “It’s what some of the school boards are doing to get closer to the students.”

Board chairman Jeff Chapman inquired about whether or not the board would get students who served on student council. Kovash replied by saying he had found there were many good models to follow.

“There are different models that people have used, depending on the size of the school,” Kovash said. “Some have kids submit applications. Smaller schools tend to go into the school and find people that are interested. Some are two-year terms and some are three-year terms.”

Kovash said he thought having student representation on the board would be a positive step for students and parents.

“We can really get some people engaged,” he said. “It could also help parents know what’s going on.”

Superintendent Klint Willert pointed out that student board members would have limitations. They wouldn’t be allowed to vote, nor would they have access to any private information, he said.

Willert also found there to be numerous models for suggestions.

“I called the (Minnesota) School Boards Association (MSBA) and asked if there was a kind of preferred model for suggestion and they said, basically, for as many schools that do it, there’s that many different models,” Willert said. “I did ask MSBA if there were some schools in our region, and I was told that Glencoe-Silver Lake, Redwood and Luverne do something along these lines.”

GSL didn’t actually have student who sat at the board table, but does have student government that comes forward, Willert said. Redwood has had student reps on the board.

“The students are selected by the student council in Redwood,” Willert said. “It happens in spring, which helps with the planning for the following year. They’re expected to be at every board meeting, from August through June.”

For the past few years, MSBA has awarded a $3,000 scholarship for post-secondary education to two high school seniors currently serving as student board members.

“I think it’s worth seeing what the student interest would be,” board member Karen VanKeulen said.

When asked, Kovash said he had heard positive comments at a conference recently, when a couple of students shared their

“It was a little intimidating for them at times, but overall, they thought it was very worthwhile,” he said. “It gives the board a voice on what is going on.”

Board member Bill Mulso said he’d found similar experiences in talking with a number of participants at Boys State every year.

“I’ve spoken to at least a dozen who have served on boards,” Mulso said. “I think it’s worth having a conversation with student council members.”

The board also heard from superintendent assistant La Oeltjenbruns about recent changes to Electronic School Board (ESB), the Intercom Network program that the district uses for all its board meeting correspondence and business. The page can be found at

“Thank you, board members, for this opportunity to give my first and only presentation to the entire school board in 24 years of service,” said Oeltjenbruns, who is retiring at the end of the school year. “Tricia (Stelter, district administration assistant) said it was my final debut.”

The first update Oeltjenbruns noted was that ESB was now compatible with iPads and Android tablets. She also pointed out that the updates would allow multiple strategic plans to be worked on and displayed simultaneously in addition to offering library and search features.

“There have been several updates since you all have been trained, even those of you as new as Curt, on the board in terms of what has happened with our (Electronic) School Board,” she said. “For you, it’s mostly changes in appearance, but I wanted to make sure you’re aware of some of these things because they want to make sure this is as usable and friendly for you, as well as those who are clerk to the board, which is what my title is with ESB.”

Other improvements include the fact that agenda information can be collapsed or reveal a detailed outline, Oeltjenbruns said, as well as offering better attachment capabilities.

After Oeltjenbruns gets board approval for the minutes of meetings, she posts it to the ESB website, which is accessible to the public.

The board also chose June 3 as a possible joint meeting date with city council.

“I’d like us to build a partnership,” Chapman said. “We’ve broken down walls with SMSU (Southwest Minnesota State University). I’d like to see us do that with the city council. I think good things can happen.”