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Brookfield high school students seek 'sleep late' privileges

Students propose senior incentive program

March 13, 2013

High school student representatives addressed members of the Elmbrook School Board on Tuesday to pitch a tough sell: leaving school early.

Jessica Schmeling, a senior student council member at Brookfield Central, helped draft a proposal that would allow qualified seniors to leave campus during a school block period.

The proposal

Schmeling unveiled the senior privilege incentive to School Board members for the first time, and with the help of the Brookfield East student council, will present a final proposal at the March 26 meeting.

"What we want to try to do is create an incentive program for freshmen, sophomores and juniors," Schmeling said. "What we plan on implementing is a program already in place at Arrowhead or Tosa East." Seniors maintaining a certain grade point average and sustaining good attendance records would qualify for the program.

"So if you have open campus first hour, you could sleep in, come late to class - well not late to class - but come late to school at the start of second hour."

The proposal would include academic oversight. "At the end of every term your grades would be looked at, and if you received a D or an F, you would be ineligible for the next term," she said.

"A girl that I work with at Buffalo Wild Wings was talking to me about what they have at Arrowhead, and it's a flexible schedule option for juniors and seniors."

The Brookfield students were envious. So last month Schmeling started working with students and administrators. But it won't be Schmeling or her senior classmates that profit. According to the proposal, the class of 2015 would be the first beneficiaries.

Administration support

Brookfield Central principal Don LaBonte ran the data and found that roughly one-third of class of 2013 seniors would qualify for the privilege.

The data shows that 203 seniors have an accumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, and of those 203 students, 128 would qualify for open campus. Absences account for the gap. When raising the GPA to 3.5 or higher, 93 students would qualify.

Student councils at both high schools debated what the appropriate GPA should be. At Brookfield Central, students decided to meet in the middle at 3.25, which matches the minimum for honor roll grades.

The proposal also states that any unexcused absences would disqualify candidates, as well as an undetermined amount of tardy violations.

Schmeling said she has the backing of Brookfield Central administrators. "Principal Labonte definitely supports it," she said.

Jim Darren, associate principal for Brookfield Central, said students and advisors want the student councils to play big roles in the schools.

"Students really want to a have a voice in what the school does, so they're taking that next step as a (government), and they're really taking a step forward."

Superintendent Mark Hansen commended the students' work and looked forward to the final proposal at the next School Board meeting.

"It's not often that rival high schools work together on policy, but these folks are doing that for the first time. I really appreciate your leadership and both principles have been very instrumental in helping nurture this."

Upcoming issues

Many years ago, the Board of Education moved toward a student representation model to increase student input in the board room.

In the fall, student councils from both schools were asked to brainstorm topics to bring before the board. In April, student representatives will initiate a conversation about "BYOD," which means bring your own computer device to campus. May's topic will focus on student fees.

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