MCHS Student Council to travel to state capitol

Story at a glance

• Moffat County High School Student Council officers to travel to state capitol April 29.

• State Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, invited the students to shadow him in Denver after they wrote a letter voicing concern about possible school district budget cuts.

• The officers said their student body wants to have a say in the budget cuts.

As budget woes sweep the state and talks take place of spending cutbacks for school districts, cities and counties, the Moffat County High School Student Council felt one voice was being overlooked:

The voice of future public servants and community members.

The voice of students.

As an elected representative of the student body, student council vice president Velvet Warne said she has had several students approach her in recent weeks.

“They ask me, ‘When are we going to get to talk?’” she said.

The student council listened to their peers and has found ways to be actively involved in upcoming discussions about budget cuts in the school district.

Early in the school year, reports came from the state that $260 million would be cut from K-12 education, possibly including 10 percent of the school district’s $20 million budget.

The student council also will soon get a peek into state affairs.

Four officers — president Slade Gurr, secretary April Rogers, treasurer Becca Pugh and Warne — will visit the capitol building April 29 in Denver and shadow state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, through a legislative session and learn about state policy-making.

They hope they can take what they learn back to Craig and create a dialogue among students, community members and local leaders regarding possible spending cuts.

“I know that there are lot of students, even teachers, who don’t necessarily know what’s going on with the budget cuts,” Gurr said.

Gurr said there was uproar in the high school band that fine arts could be cut from the school. Rogers said there was fear after-school activities wouldn’t be funded.

“It just kind of ballooned throughout the school,” Gurr said of the increasing worry about upcoming cuts. “So, we sat down with (principal Thom) Schnellinger and went through some of the recent budgets and learned about policies.”

They researched TABOR and the Gallagher amendment, policies and processes, and eventually wrote a letter to White that stated they represented a student body that wanted to be heard.

White responded with enthusiasm, Gurr said, and invited them to Denver for an inside look at state government.

Student council advisor Delaine Brown said she was proud of her students for taking the initiative to write to a state representative.

“The student council should be the voice of the student body,” Brown said. “They should get actively involved and this trip will help them get an understanding. Are they going to have the answers? No. But they can help by putting their input in as students.”

The student council also organized a forum with school district Superintendent Joe Petrone and District Finance Director Mark Rydberg for students to ask questions and give input on proposed budget cuts while teachers are in collaboration time Thursday.

Warne and Rogers said they have gauged a lot of interest in the forum.

For Warne, it’s apparent that what happens at the state level directly affects Craig, the school district and its students, and setting up avenues for education and communication about budget issues can only improve a difficult situation.

“These things affect us directly,” Warne said. “People don’t always realize or see that we don’t just go to school because we have to.

“We see these problems, too, and we want to help.”

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