HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Thousands of Connecticut high school students from across the state will decide how more than $1.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds for schools will be spent.
Forty-three school districts, which encompass 77 high schools, have agreed to participate in the state’s new campaign called Voice4Change. The initiative, administered by the Connecticut State Department of Education, allows students to submit proposals for how best to spend $20,000 in their respective schools.
They can begin submitting applications later this month. Proposals will be accepted until early January.
On March 11, students at each high school will vote on which proposal they prefer for their particular school. The ideas must be deemed eligible to receive American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funds. The state, school district and students are then expected to work together to make sure the winning proposal at their school is implemented.
Five “Commissioner Choice” awards will also be awarded to fulfill five student proposals that didn’t win enough votes.
“I found in life, the bigger the table, the more ideas you get, the better the outcome,” Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont told students at the CREC Civic Leadership High School in Enfield on Wednesday. “I want you to have a stake in the outcome. … I like people who have a stake in the game and incentives to make it happen.”
State officials called the contest “a first-in-the-nation statewide student civic engagement initiative.”
“Every student has at some point come into class wishing something was different within their school,” wrote Natalie Bandura, a student member of the Connecticut State Board of Education and a senior at Staples High School in Westport. In a statement, she said this initiative is “exciting” because students “are the ones who have the power to make that change.”