Tuesday night, people all over the Chippewa Valley may be voting on new school board members, and in Eau Claire, the youngest person on the school board needs to be decided on as well, but you won't see the student representative on your ballot. District leaders pick that person.
The Eau Claire District tried it for the first time last year and wants to keep it going, so we sat down with the incumbent to see what he learned from his time on board the board.
Memorial Senior Ben Blink didn't bat an eye when it came to being the first to sit in this seat.
Blink says "it's something i felt strongly about. Students need a voice in the process. "
So he became the district's first student representative. A non-voting member, but a member with something to say, when he got a handle on his nerves. Blink says "the first time there's a microphone siting in front of you, it takes a little time to hit the button to see the light come on and say something productive."
He says the plus-minus grading issue was the biggest issue he weighed in on. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Gregg Butler says it's important for the student body to have a point person. Butler says
"it's important, especially for our high school students have someone to go to"
While Ben isn't one to toot his own horn, outside of band practice anyway, he said students did approach him and so did the board.
Blink says "they'd ask me about technology issues. I had a chance to bring up memory issues on computers. They doubled the memory on the computers so that was nice to see."
The lasting memory Ben will leave is one of change and progress.
"I think now the school board is learning how to use a student representative and the student representative is learning to interact with the board," Butler says.
Ben says he's learned what it takes to run a district and how a teenager can help make a difference, " I really believe if the student representative can influence the board on just one issue a year it's worth it."
Eight students are up for the position, the district will interview them and make a choice in early May. Ben's successor starts in June and works with the board until next May.