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Analysis: Odle ASB Transparency Report


Note: Odle ASB President Joshua Wang is a member of the NWYJ. He did not impact this article in any way, and this article was written from an independent point of view.

The Odle Associated Student Body (ASB) recently published an ASB Transparency Report. The author of the report, ASB President Joshua Wang, states that the report aims to “unshroud the ASB, and provide the best information to the people so that they are informed and knowledgeable, and can effectively participate in this instituted republican system.”

The report touches on three topics: end of the year trips, socials and assemblies, fundraisers, and survey. Here is a part-by-part analysis:

End of Year Trips

Report on 8th Grade Party

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An Argosy Cruise ship in the Puget Sound. Source: Seattle CityPass

At the end of the year, the 8th graders will be going on a chartered boat from Argosy Cruises. On the boat, various amenities will be provided. Some of these are catered food and a dance room. Students will use BSD transport to arrive at the dock. Prior to going, students will be required to sign a permission slip, due to the excursion’s classification as a field trip, and also pay a fee, which will be around $70. Students unable as determined by the District will be allowed to pay a reduced fee. If students do not meet the above requirements, they will be excluded from going. The fee will go toward paying for cruise-related and brunch-related expenses, as well as allowing future ASB’s to have a healthy starting balance. The boat will sail for a few hours, and will return to the dock, at which point BSD transport will be waiting to transport students back to school.

An additional component is the 8th grade brunch. It will mainly feature brunch food provided by the BSD, a photo booth, and other amenities. This incorporates the promotion ceremony.

The report outlines the basic structure of the trip, but it lacks important details that the public should now. The report claims that financial aid will be provided for students who cannot pay the hefty seventy dollar cost, but the report does not specifically say what criteria the District will use to evaluate a student’s ability to pay the fee. The report also claims that the cruise excursion fee will help the future ASB have a “healthy starting balance”. The report does not state how much of the fee will help a future ASB. No other activity mentioned in the report has a fee that is supposed to help pay ASB expenses. Eight graders should not have to pay extra to help the ASB have a healthy financial future just because they decide to go on a cruise. Cruise fees and general ASB fees are two different payments, as the former is applied to a selective group while the latter is not. Thus, these two very different payments should not be mixed.

It is also healthy for democracy for the ASB to detail how every cent of those 70 dollars is spent to ensure that the ASB is not wasting money or inappropriately using it.

7th Grade Party Report

At the end of the year, the 7th graders, for the first time ever, will be granted a field trip as well. A location for their excursion has not been determined yet, but may be options such as an arcade or a roller rink. BSD transport will be used to transport students to and from the venue. Similar to the 8th grade party, a fee and a permission slip will be required.

The report is vague. All it states is that the ASB is committed to the idea of having an end-of-year party for seventh graders. Since this is the first time that seventh graders will have a party, the simple action of committing to having a party for them is a big step in and of itself. However, the ASB needs to make a detailed plan for the party, and then share it with the public. The only improvement that the ASB could make is poll seventh graders for what they want to have at this party, and then have the ASB publicly evaluate each proposal and reason their stance. By doing this, the ASB will help ensure that they are representing the student wants.

6th Grade Party Report

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The theater at Camp Orkila. Source: Flickr/Pat David

ASB will not plan a 6th grade party, as it is recognized that Camp Orkila is their party. Furthermore, ASB does not plan in being involved in Camp Orkila.

The report clearly states that the ASB is not involved in Camp Orkila. It would be useful if the body in charge of Camp Orkila made all of their decisions public, due to the importance and risks of the Camp.

Socials and Assemblies

Field Day Report

A field day, similar to elementary school field days, is proposed. While unapproved, this would be an end-of-year social. As quoted, “[the] purpose [is] to get outside and bond as one Odle!” There would be no fee, allowing all of Odle to participate. It would happen in school recreation centres, such as the exterior area and the gymnasium. The committee is exploring planning activities with PE teachers, and organizing other active activities. Popsicles may be provided, although an issue was stated that, “In social hour, when they handed out popsicles there was a riot.” And, “…lots of people just washed off the Sharpie.” A proposal to have people, “working in teams with LA SS,” was stated.

Once again, the report is vague. What activities would be available to students? How would students be involved in choosing these activities? The issue is referring to students taking multiple popsicles by washing off the Sharpie that was used to keep track of who has got a popsicle. The issue is warranted because it has happened before, but the solution given is simply vague. What does it mean that people with work in teams with their humanities classes? What will these teams try to accomplish? Until the ASB can find a solution for handing out these treats, and prove the financial cost of this event, this event’s plan is too vague for the public to judge it.

Dance Report

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The dance program at Odle. Source: Bellevue School District

A school dance is proposed. This dance would be afterschool. A date is not decided. Possible venues are the commons and the gymnasium. An entrance fee, and possible other fees would be charged for the purpose of compensation and profit. A raffle may be conducted, with an additional fee to buy a ticket. A music organizer would be provided. Food may also be provided. Parents or teachers would volunteer to staff and supervise the event. Décor may follow a ‘Winter Wonderland’ theme. However, these ideas have not been combined to create a cohesive event.

At the time of this article was published, more information was out about this school dance. According to school announcements, no fee will be charged however there is a suggested five-dollar donation. No information about a raffle was included. The venue was to be held at Sammamish High School. The dance show is a good platform for Odle’s dancers to practice performing in front of an audience. It would be nice for the ASB to provide the public with the part-by-part cost of this event and, upon the completion of the event, its attendance and revenue.

Fundraisers

House Point System Report

This idea has been generally disregarded, due to its overwhelming complexity. It would divide the school into ‘houses,’ and would have the goal of encouraging students to participate in school activities to earn points for their ‘house’, with prizes for houses with the most points. For details, please email.

This report is for the public, and the public should not have to email an ASB member to get information that should be part of the report. In general, a house system seems ineffective since students will complain about how “houses” are decided and that the house system is unfair because some are clearly better than others. It is also hard to understand how the ASB will motivate students to try. Making the prize very large will make students complain more about how houses are unfair, and a small prize will not motivate many. History shows that this is likely, as Odle’s current OARR system tries to motivate students by giving them prizes, but many students disvalue the system and call it unfair.

Pie Throwing Report

Students would either pool money or win an auction for rights to pie a volunteer teacher. The money would cover cost of pies and profit. One issue is the food safety of the pies, as they must meet BSD regulations.

Food safety is a major obstacle, but it can be dealt with by purchasing special pies. The ASB does not detail what the cost of the pie would be for the school, nor does it detail how much this would cost a student that wants to participate. The cost must be low enough that it is practical for the student, but it must be high enough that it is worth the teacher’s time. But these are minor problems. A bigger problem is convincing students and teachers to participate. The ASB has no evidence that students would want to participate in such an event, with or without a fee. A school survey would be helpful. Also, which teachers are going to volunteer? Students may want to throw pies at just “hard” or “strict” teachers. Moreover, is this really ethical? How could this affect student-teacher relations, which studies show to have a large impact on student learning and performance.

Sport Competition Report

Students would get the opportunity to participate in a sport competition. An entrance fee would be required. While there are no prizes planned, food will be provided at the end. This event would need to be heavily staffed, ad would be highly logistical.

Most children are interested in sports, and Odle has amazing athletes. Many students will play for the fun of sports, but not all. Is the “entrance fee” going to be applied to athletes or viewers. Considering that American major sport leagues made over 30 billion dollars in revenue in 2014, according to a study by howmuch.net. If the ASB handles the competition correctly, by having a variety of sports, good matchups, and good commentators, the event should be able to attract lots of people and profit. Having a marching band or orchestra could add to the hype. The ASB also needs to ensure that the time and venue are well-chosen. As the report states, this would need to be a well-planned event. If the ASB can correctly execute a good sports competition plan, it could be a big success, but it is highly risky and can be a debacle as well. To ensure that the latter does not happen, the public should be highly involved in the planning process.

Odle’s Got Talent Report

Similar to talent shows on television, Odle would host its own talent show. Conflicting ideas of this event have been presented. One idea is to have prospects pay a performance fee, perform, and be judged by teachers. Students would be allowed to watch, albeit with an entrance fee. This idea aims to be similar to television talent shows. However, some have pointed out that it may not be in a good interest to judge students, discouraging some if they get low scores. Another idea is similar to the first, but would be scripted, and more as a comedy bit. Some persons may volunteer to perform comically bad. A more popular idea is to replicate the school talent show at the end of the year, where students first audition, and then perform. They would not be charged a fee. However, viewers would still need to pay an entrance fee. Others feel that the judging issue is very important, and propose limiting performers to teachers, in order to ensure emotional integrity.

There are lots of variations to this idea. For transparency, it is important that the ASB share the financial details of this event with the public. But for effectiveness, this event must be well planned. The best idea is probably to make it free to perform, as cost should not be a barrier to students sharing their talent. It is important to consider the bias of the judges. Teachers should not be judges because they will have opinions about students in general, which may interfere with the scores they give. The judges of the auditions will also need to be fair. They should make sure that nobody who has not tried makes it through, but if anyone has a fervent attempt, they should be allowed to perform. As for the emotional stress that students will undergo, students should know that they may be get low scores. Students are in middle school, and they need to learn that not everything they do in life will have a positive reception.  If the ASB correctly advertises this, and finds fair judges, then it should attract a large crowd. It might be a better idea for the ASB to make the event free, but ask for donations, as adding a cost might cause some people to not come, but after the show, many may seem obligated to help support the hard work of these students.

Parent’s Night Out Report

Parents would be able to drop off their young children and be freed to have a night out. In order to have a manageable environment, the children would have to be 3 or older and potty trained. Parents would pay a fee per child.

There are two main problems. This event will require heavy advertisement. It is also hard to ensure that parents will want to pay for a “night out”. The cost needs to be low enough that parents will pay the fee, but it needs to be high enough for the ASB to cover the costs of keeping all of the students happy. Even if the ASB gets many parents to participate, and they take good care of the children, there is a large problem. Legal issues. If something happens to a child, the District may be sued. These legal conflicts may pose a major obstacle if the District is sued for causing an injury. Even if the District is not sued, the legal responsibility is so high that students cannot be trusted to take care of the children, and it will be hard to find enough teachers that will volunteer. In short, the risk of such an event is too much for the relatively small profit compared to other events like the sports competition.

 

Survey

An online survey using Microsoft Forms has been created to assess student interest in various proposed activities, as well as interest in specific areas in approved events. It is divided by grade, as there are grade-specific questions. Teachers will be notified in advance of the survey date. A guiding video may be filmed in order to prime students with the functions of ASB. Students will likely take the survey in first period. In lieu of the announcements, students will be directed to take the survey.

 

The survey is a great idea. It will allow the ASB to make decisions off of student input. The reward for this action is high, almost necessary, and the cost is very low. The ASB needs to ensure that they conduct the survey correctly. The ASB must ensure that every student gets to vote once and only once. The questions must help the ASB make important decisions. The questions must also be objective, and not worded in a bias way. The survey has great potential if used correctly.

 

Conclusion

The ASB Transparency Report is a good step in the process of integrating the ASB with the public and the students. Yet it is only one step. The ideas are fecund seeds, but they require elaboration to grow. The events that the ASB considers must be presented with much detail to the public, and the public opinion must be considered. The ASB has a long and hard process to becoming an ideal democratic institution, and avoiding this process would be easy, but “always do what is right, not what is easy.”

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One thought on “Analysis: Odle ASB Transparency Report

  1. I highly recommend you revise this article, it has many errors. May I please know your purpose on criticizing the ASB transparency report. There are some minor setbacks, but Joshua has taken his role and has addressed the situation that there more things that should be decided. There are many other events that you could be writing about instead of criticizing ASB, please be a real writer and not disappoint readers of NWYJ like me.

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