By Mark Cluff
We say that Alpine Valley Academy is a Constitutional Council school. This means that we have a constitution that defines our purpose as a school, sets the school structure, and lays out the School Council member rights. The School Council is made up of every student and staff member. The constitution is to protect the rights of every individual at the school. If we were a pure democracy, the majority could vote whatever they wanted, even taking rights away from the minority. With a constitution, those rights are protected.
To change the constitution requires a two thirds vote of all the School Council members. This would be a hard thing to do. This is why we also have the School Council Rulebook.
The School Council Rulebook is where all the school rules are written. New rules or changes to rules are proposed by any School Council member. The proposal is heard and discussed during School Council for a first reading. The next week during School Council the proposal has a second reading, discussion, and a vote. If the proposal has a majority of votes of those attending, the proposal passes and is added to the Rulebook. We use Robert’s Rules to run our meetings.
The students feel empowered and enjoy that they have a say in running the school and setting the rules. We believe that we all deserve to be respected and all are responsible for their own governance. What has been interesting is as a new rule has been approved, the students see that unintended consequence can happen. Then they try to change the rule to make it work the way they had hoped or they will just remove the rule. It has been a fun adventure to see the students see a need for a rule and go through the process of getting it passed.
We have seen that this form of school governance works very well and is helpful in preparing students take responsibility for their own lives and their community.
Published March 8, 2021