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Student representative proposal fails

The Frontier School Board has rejected a May referendum on whether district voters can decide if a student representative can to serve on the board as a non-voting member.

In a 5-3 board vote, the motion failed last week with board members Jack D. Chiappone, Lynn Burke and Larry Albert casting the "yes" votes.

The issue has been a topic at board meetings in recent weeks, heightening in December when the head of the high school student government pushed hard for representation.

Student Government President Davis A. Podkulski initially criticized the board for not allowing students a clear voice in district affairs.

After Tuesday's board vote -- which occurred with no board comment, just a roll call vote -- Podkulski stood in the hallway outside the meeting with his father, vowing to push ahead.

"I'm not entirely surprised by the outcome of the board vote," Podkulski said.

"Students have done some research into Plan B. We're looking to do petitions and try to force it onto the ballot," Podkulski said, noting that he expects students to attend the board's next meeting, Feb. 7.

His father, Richard Podkulski, who also has requested the board consider the idea and often accompanies his son to board meetings, chimed in.

"They have their homework to do, but they have a plan," he said.

"We'll do all that we can until there are no other options, and it's one month before May, and it's too late," Davis Podkulski said.

Superintendent James C. Bodziak previously noted the public has the final say on whether a student serves on the board. But the board decides whether the proposal is placed on the ballot.

Board President Michael Comerford initially said the issue appeared dead because the board cannot reverse itself.

In an interview Friday, Comerford said the school law provides for voter propositions to be placed on a ballot, but criteria must be met, and the propositions are subject to board approval.

Petition signatures from either 25 qualified voters or 5 percent of registered voters who voted in the previous election, whichever is greater, would be required.

There is an apparent discrepancy between the timetables of Frontier and the state education department. District policy calls for petitions to be filed no later than 30 days before the election -- likely making it too tight to pull off in time for the advance, required written notices to taxpayers about the ballot propositions.

However, the state calls for a 60- to 90-day cutoff for petitions to be received before an upcoming vote.