NHPS Student Representatives on the Board of Education Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Board of Education?  What does the Board of Education (BOE) do? 

    The Board of Education sets the vision for the school district and the decisions they make at their meetings make a difference for your school. The Board of Education has a wide variety of responsibilities, such as adopting a balanced annual budget, adopting the school calendar, negotiating contracts with employee unions, approving curriculum materials and making decisions about specific school issues.  


    Why should I do this? What are some big issues that the BOE has recently discussed 

    One of the goals of New Haven Public Schools is to prepare our students to be the next generation of leaders, innovators and problem-solvers.  The Board of Education strives to build a school district which students, parents, and educators are all invested in.  Serving on the Board of Education is an incredible opportunity to use your voice as a student to impact public education.  Some of the big issues the BOE has recently discussed are early literacy, school resources, teacher attendanceand more.   


    What am I supposed to do as a representative? 

    Serving as a student representative is a big role.  You and one other student will be representing 22,000 New Haven public school students!  You should attend all meetings and read all materials. You should speak up about issues that you care about, which impact your school and your fellow students. Make efforts to talk with other New Haven public school students in grades K-12 – not just your friends – to understand the broad perspective of the New Haven public schools student body.  Also, you should share with students what you have learned in your role as a BOE member. Finally, ask!  Ask for the information that you need to make good decisions and understand the complex issues that impact schools.  


    How much time will this take?  How long a commitment?  

    As a rising junior, you will be taking on a 2-year commitment to attend meetings every two weeks of the full board of education and participate in a committee of the board. There are papers and financial reports to read. There will be trainings and workshops to attend. Also, you will need to take time to talk with students throughout New Haven in order to learn about their interests and ideas, and to share what you learn at the board meetings.  


    When and where are the BOE meetings held? Can anyone attend?  

    Board meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at 5:30 p.m., throughout the school year and summertime. The meetings are held at a local school and rotate locations every six months.  They are currently being held at Celentano Biotech, Health and Magnet  School (100 Jewel Street). Board meetings are public meetings with board members, the superintendent, teachers, parents, students, principals and community members all in attendance. 


    What are the BOE meetings like? 

    Board of Education meetings are formal meetings where people take turns speaking. The meetings have an agenda set in advance.  Many times there will be papers to read in advance, so the discussion and voting can be thoughtful.  There is always time for the public to speak. Sometimes, the BOE goes into “executive session” where the public and student members are not included because of the sensitive and legal nature of the information.  


    Who is on the Board of Education now?  

    You can see who’s on the Board of Education here: nhps.net/boe.   


    Is there someone I can talk with, before making a decision? 

    Interested candidates can call or email Carolyn Ross-Lee at New Haven Public Schools.  Shcan be reached at 203-859-2009 or nhpsstudentvoice@new-haven.k12.ct.us.  All candidates who submit 100 petition signatures by the deadline will be asked to participate in a candidate meetingThey will have the opportunity to speak with Ms. Ross-Lee and representatives from the Board of Alders & Board of Education to learn more about the process.   


    How do I get to be on the BOE? 

    Candidates must be (1) a resident of New Haven, (2) currently a sophomore who will be a junior in fall 2019, AND (3) enrolled in a New Haven public high school. 


    Becoming a student representative on the Board of Education is a three step process: 

    1. Petition Phase (February 27th – March 29th):  Interested students must submit a REGISTRATION FORM online or go to the Superintendent’s Office (54 Meadow Street, 5th floor) beginning Thursday, February 27th They must then collect 100 PETITION SIGNATURES from their peers (50 students from your high school and 50 students from at least five other New Haven public high schools) and return the signed petitions to the Superintendent’s Office by 4pm on Friday, March 27th.   
    1. Campaign Phase (March 27th – May 1st):  Students who submit petitions with 100 eligible signatures are allowed to campaign between March 27th and May 1st.   
    1. Election & Service Phase (May 1st-3rdth ):  Elections at all New Haven high schools will take place on April 29th, 30th May 1st, 2020.   
    1. The winner of the elections will serve the following terms:  One current 10th grader will be elected and serve a two year term from 7/2020-6/2022. 


    Who is eligible to sign petitions and vote?  

    All New Haven public high school students, regardless of grade level and residency, are eligible to sign petitions and vote.  The New Haven residency and grade level requirements only apply to candidates.   


    Is an application required?  

    Interested candidates need to fill out a registration form which contains: office sought, election date, candidate information (name, address, phone, email, school, graduation year, student id), signature, and eligibility verification. 


    How will you need to verify that you are an eligible candidate? 

    For high school students enrolled in NHPS, the Superintendent’s staff will check our student information system to verify your current grade level, school enrollment, and address.  Because the New Haven Board of Education does not have jurisdiction over charter schools, charter school students cannot run for office.  They can, however, sign petitions and vote.   


    Are there any attendance, behavior, or grade requirements to run?   

    Students and adults were clear that they did not want to create any obstacles to students interested in running, such as GPA requirements or applications.  The only requirements to run for the position are related to your school enrollment and residency.  We will not be checking your attendance, behavior or grades, although you should be prepared to answer questions about those things if voters ask.   


    How many signatures are required for applicant petition? 

    Interested candidates must obtain 100 signatures (50 students from your high school and 50 students from at least five other high schools).  All New Haven public high school students, regardless of grade level and residency, are eligible to sign petitions and vote.  Petition signatures will be validated by the Election Committee. 


    If I’m a candidate, can someone help me get signatures?   

    Interested candidates are allowed to have CIRCULATORS, which are individuals who assist in gathering signatures on the petition forms.  Circulators must (1) be currently enrolled in a New Haven public high school, but do not need to be a New Haven resident, and (2) include their student ID number, name, date of birth, school name & signature on the circulator section of the petition form.  Circulators can obtain signatures from students in other high schools (For example, a HSC student can obtain signatures from Cross students.) 


    Is there a limit to the number of people that can help me get signatures?   

    There is not a limit to the number of people that can help you.  However, there can only be one circulator per page of your petition.  (For example, all signatures on petition page #1 must be collected by the same person.  Student A cannot collect 3 signatures and then give the page to Student B to collect 7 more signatures.)  Whoever obtains the signatures on a given petition page must sign the “Candidate/Circulator Signature” line to verify all signature are authentic and were signed in their presence. 



    What are the signatures from students used for? Can I sign more than one person’s petition form? If I sign a candidate's petition, will I have to vote for them? 

    By signing an interested candidate’s petition, you are allowing them to get one step closer to being on the election ballot.  You can sign more than one person’s petition form, and you do not have to vote for a person on election day just because you signed their petition.   



    How do I get started with my campaign?  How do I run a successful campaign? 

    When running a campaign, it is important to surround yourself by a diverse team of people who are well networked and have different skills.  You will want to make sure your team has someone who is good at communications, design, etc.  Most importantly, you should make sure you are able to express clearly why you are running for office and what issues you are focused on (these will be your key talking points).  Be sure to be sincere and speak from the heart.  Also, while social media is popular among youth, remember to also invest in face-to-face interactions so your peers can get to know you better. 


    Can I use social media for my campaign? 

    You are certainly allowed to use social media for your campaign.  However, please be sure to use the hashtag:  #NHPSstudentvoiceThis will allow us to follow all the candidates in the most convenient manner possible.   


    Will NHPS or the Board of Ed provide me with any resources for my campaign? 

    We are providing 2,000 one-page black & white copies  (designed by the candidate) to each candidate.  We are also encouraging candidates to create a 2 minute campaign video which answers (1) Name, high school, grade, (2) What is one achievement of which you are most proud?, (3) Why do you want to serve on the Board of Education?  What is your top issue or priority?, and (4) A fun fact about yourself.  Creating your campaign materials (flyers, video, etc) provides a great opportunity to build the team of people supporting you in this process.  The Board of Ed will post the candidates campaign videos on the student elections website.   


    What other resources can I use for my campaign? 

    In creating the guidelines for this process, both the students and adults who provided input were committed to making sure students had equal access to campaign resources.  We fully expect that the resources being provided by the Board of Education will be sufficient for your campaign.  We will conduct an end of campaign survey to ask more about your experience and the resources provided.   


    Are campaigns held at every school? 

    The student BOE representatives will be elected by students from all New Haven public high schools.  As such, candidates should plan their campaigns in a way that will reach all schools. 


    How will other schools meet the candidates that are running?  

    Candidates are encouraged to use their participation in extracurricular activities as well as their social networks to get exposure to students in other schools.  Additionally, NHPS is committed to helping candidates reach their peers across all high schools.  We have set up a page at www.nhps.net, where we can post information about each candidate and about the election.