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Proposal to Create a Closed Council at Neenah High School

Closed Council Committee Members: Nick Bezier, Chair Alissa Rashid, Student Council President Robbie Boehmer Hailey Branchford Morgan Harm Kelsey Laabs Abbie Sliwicki Sarah Smaby Tyler Stilp Claire Tipton Jessica Werhand Submitted to NHS Administration on:

Background Student Council has a long tradition at Neenah High School, tracing back to its very foundation. Student Council was originally a student-faculty group, ensuring that both students and staff had an open line of communication to share insights and opinions regarding issues that were pertinent to both parties. Over the years, that group became Student Council, a group of students that use parliamentary procedure to create a positive environment for the school. Currently, Student Council has two advisors, Mr. Frailing and Mr. LaLuzerne. An Executive Board, comprised of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Historian/PR Coordinator, leads the Student Council. Alissa Rashid, Amen Okundaye, Claire Tipton, Abbie Sliwicki, and Brady Ament head those positions, respectively. All other members are at large members that vote on varying measures. Several perceptions and structural issues have plagued the council in recent years. First, many outsiders believe that Student Council does little beyond fundraisers and submission of dress-up days for school spirit events. While this is not true, many who may have joined the council do not do so because of this. Second, attendance of members at council meetings fluctuates dramatically. Meetings earlier in the year are well attended, but attendance drops off as the school year wears on. Lastly, students have expressed concerns that the Student Council does not accurately represent the will of the students. In some cases, students feel that the council is not called upon to voice student opinion, and thus, they feel there is little legitimacy to the council. Recently, schools around the area have transitioned to a structure known as closed council. Closed council is similar to the current structure used at Neenah High School, but instead of students freely attending meeting, students are elected to the council. Because members are elected to their positions, representatives will feel more obligated to represent their constituents and attend meetings. Similarly, we hope that hold elections would cause students to look to the council first with grievances or concerns. Further information of possible structures will be discussed.

Attributes of Open/Closed Council Attribute Determination of council members Attendance policy Open Council (current) All students can attend and vote at meetings Members are free to come and go as they please Closed Council (proposed) Representatives are elected to the council by students Representatives will be required to attend meetings No structured student input Listening sessions will be held Mainly on fundraisers and Same as previously, but dress-up days also addressing student concerns

Student input Working with admin team

We believe that a closed council has much potential and great upside for Neenah High School. We believe that student voice is an integral part of every school, and that strong relationships and communication between administration, faculty and students are key to ensuring the best possible environment in school. Lastly, we believe that a closed council would help solve the perceptions and structural deficiencies mentioned earlier. With Neenah High School already switching to a semester schedule next year, the committee believes these next several years would work best as the transition years, due to the fact that they already are in many respects. We think closed council holds much promise for Neenah High School, and we hope that both the Student Council and high school administration approves the actions laid down by this proposal.

Action Statement The current Student Council structure will be replaced with a closed council structure. The Closed Council Committee believes this will expand proactive student voice and participation within the council and the high school as a whole. Structure While specifics can be determined at a later date, several characteristics will change the dynamics of the student council from what it currently is now: Members will be elected to the council o Six representatives (places 1-6 in the election) from each class will be elected to a position on the council. Of the twenty-four members, five will be elected, by the closed council members, to the Executive Board. Prior to running for a position, a candidate must acquire signatures from two teachers/administrators and acquire thirty student signatures. These signatures are to be submitted to the student council advisors. Upon receipt of the letter and signatures, the candidate will be officially added to the ballot. The Student Council advisors and the previous years Executive Board members that did not graduate will be responsible for conducting the election. Elections for positions on the council are to be held the school year prior to the next term during the second semester. The newly elected council will meet once to elect the Executive Board. This will allow the advisors to offer the Executive Board retreat that is held annually. Freshmen will run in a separate election that will be conducted at the conclusion of the first semester. Ballots will be distributed in freshman seminar the last week of the first semester. o Those that ran in an election but were not elected onto the council will be eligible for an appointed position. Appointments will be made by staff and administration. Upon loss in the general election, two potential representatives from each class can lobby for sponsorship from faculty. Those that wish to be appointed must gather five additional signatures from faculty members and an additional twenty signatures from students. In the event that more than two students from a class wish to be appointed to the council, the advisors will make the final determination. Attendance will be mandatory o Students that are elected as representatives will be expected to attend council meetings. The efficiency, efficacy, and most importantly, legitimacy of the council are affected when representatives do not attend meetings regularly. Representatives that are absent without a proper

excuse (i.e. illness, family emergency, appointments) more than once will be removed from the council and replaced with the next runner-up. Council meetings will have an open forum for students o Student voice is critical to ensuring student satisfaction and success within a school. An open forum will allow students not on the council to express their opinions regarding pertinent issues facing the high school. The council will establish a Forum Committee that will be in charge of conducting open forums. Open forums will be conducted the first Tuesday of every month during 5th mod during the first semester and 4th and 5th mod second semester. Those on the Forum Committee will be expected to conduct open forum meetings during their lunch time. Duties of those running the meeting include conducting the meeting in an orderly fashion and creating a report of concerns shared by students during the meeting. The Forum Committee will meet with administration, the Executive Committee, and school board student representatives on the third Tuesday of the month. The Forum will share the list of questions and concerns that it had compiled during the open forum meeting. Issues of pressing concern brought up in open forum can be shared on an informal basis with administration or subject party. The Forum Committee will be responsible for posting open forum meeting notices on the bulletin board outside the Conant Little Theater. o The council is expected to share those concerns with staff and administration, and work together with both groups to try and find a mutually beneficial solution to the problem at hand. While the committee recognizes that faculty and administration rightfully supersede student input, we hope that both take student concerns into consideration while considering policy and look to the council as a group committed to finding a mutually beneficial solution for students, faculty, and administration. Joint Meetings of the Executive Committee and Board of Education o The Executive Committee and the Board of Education will meet quarterly to discuss student concerns related to district policy. Those running for Executive Committee will be expected to accept responsibility for attending these meetings and accurately representing the will of the students. o Upon completion of a meeting, the Secretary will be responsible for creating the minutes of the meeting and providing a brief summary of different Board policies and initiatives that the Executive Board believes will have a noticeable impact on students. The Secretary will distribute

this to the Satellite, WNHS, and provide paper copies on the bulletin board. Council rules not in conflict with the above statements will be put in place with closed council

Summary The current student council has done phenomenal work with the high school and the community, and we want that tradition to continue. Current practices of the council have worked well in the past, and we hope they continue in future councils. Despite this, the committee feels that improvements can be made in the structure of the council, and we hope this proposal addresses those concerns and establishes a path for a greater school environment in the future. We also hope this new structure will provide a conduit for students to address concerns and provide input before decisions are made. We hope to see this structure shift the impetus on feedback from reactivity to proactivity. Timeline of Proposal 03/2011: First informal review at SC meeting 04/2011: Continued revision of proposal based off input from committee members, SC members, administration, and closed council advisors from other districts 05/2011: Formal proposal to administration Assuming approval by administration and student council: 09/2011: Last year of open council begins 10/2011: Vote by SC 11/2011 - 02/2012: Tweaking of policy and election planning by SC 03/2012: Nomination process begins 04/2012: All nominees must have applications submitted 05/2012: Elections for council seats 05/2012: Exec Board elections 09/2012: First year of closed council