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Student leader calls for representation

The head of the Frontier High School student government took the School Board to task Tuesday night for not having a student representative on the board.

Davis A. Podkulski read a prepared statement to the board, indicating he had sought feedback from Frontier's student body and said classmates felt disenfranchised without the privilege to have a clear voice in district affairs.

Podkulski also had the student representative from the Hamburg School Board attend Frontier's meeting and speak about how Hamburg handles student representation on its board.

"Schools exist to serve students, right? Yet, we are not even represented by the school's governing body. If school boards do not have student representatives, how can they expect to do a good job serving students?" Podkulski said. "We students experience the decisions that you, the board, make at every meeting here. Yet, we do not hold an adequate voice."

Podkulski's father, Richard Podkulski, has questioned the same point at recent board meetings -- followed by repeated remarks by board member Jack Chiappone, who said he has pushed the board to address the matter since July.

"After mumbling and pandering by some members of the board and administration, it was discussed that the topic could possibly be entertained at some future date, months from now," Davis Podkulski said. "Members of the board also indicated that the student body is engaged in selected input and participation in district affairs and that this topic was broached by previous boards."

Hamburg's Student Government president, Jillian Summers, who sits on the Hamburg School Board as a nonvoting member, pointed to benefits of having student representation. "The main benefit of having a student on the School Board is the budget," she said, noting the tough economy and resulting impact on school budgets. "Kids are freaking out and there is bashing on Facebook. It helps bridge the communication between students and the board."

Later in the board meeting, the issue created tension when Chiappone demanded the board vote on the issue right away. Chiappone asked that the student government president be named to serve on the School Board by adding it as a late agenda item and demanding a roll call vote.

Board President Michael Comerford refused, saying the board does not add late agenda items.

Chiappone insisted that Roberts Rules of Order allow him to make a motion at any time.

"No one has ever interjected a late motion in 14 years on the board," Comerford said.

Chiappone accused Comerford of denying him the opportunity to add a late motion that had been seconded by another board member. Comerford disagreed.

"You just can't pop an idea out and assign a person," Comerford said. "You have to do it intelligently and not by the seat of your pants."

email: krobinson@buffnews.com