Thursday, April 25, 2013

Southeast High Students have pressing questions for superintendent Mills

Southeast High School student’s show Seminole Teen Talk Live may sound light, but the students involved show serious interest in the issues of the school board, particularly the budget.
Host and creator MacKenzie Yayura interviewed Manatee County school board chairwoman Karen Carpenter and superintendent of schools Rick Mills about the school board’s top issues of the past month, particular the budget shortfall.
According to the show’s producer, junior Gillian Palino, Teen Talk has aired about 10 episodes since Yayura started it this year under the direction of the production teacher Mike Sanders.
The show normally features interviews with other students, and topics addressed include International Baccalaureate versus Advanced Placement, balancing homework and stress and technology’s role in students’ academic lives.
The format allows audience members tuning in from around the community to submit questions via email and Twitter.
Thursdays episode garnered questions from other Southeast High School students, parents in the community and even a fifth grader from Willis Elementary.
Thursday’s episode gave
Carpenter and Mills took the opportunity to visit with students and tell them on a personal level some of the issues the district is facing.
“We need to be more fiscally alert,” Carpenter said on the show. “There is nothing criminal about stupidity, but we didn’t have a comprehensive financial plan.”
Concerns raised included the future of art and athletic departments community’s investment in both high and low performing students and the reimbursement of money to schools.
Yayura also inquired about a possible student advisory for the school board, as well as the possibility of student school board members.
“We need student voices at the school board, policy-making level and in their own schools,” Carpenter said. While she said that it is unlikely, and maybe even against Florida statutes, that a student would be elected to the school board, she still wants to hear student voices.
Yayura is graduating next month, but with younger siblings in the public school system, she said that she has concerns and fears that she would like to see addressed.
“There is too much attention taken away from high performing students,” Yayura said. She added that she would like to see a change in the community’s perception about her soon-to-be alma mater, Southeast High School. “I know I’m biased, but it’s a great school, and I would like to see more community collaboration around it.”
Yayura said that she found Carpenter’s and Mills’ responses reassuring.
“Mills has an action plan, and he is ready to analyze and develop solutions,” she said. “Carpenter supports students and student voices.”
Carpenter and Mills said they enjoyed hearing the interests of students as stakeholders, and they both had broad smiles as they left the Seminole Teen Talk set.
Episodes of Seminole Teen Talk can be viewed any time at
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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