BREAKING: High school student elected as Boise School District’s first student trustee

Photo courtesy of Shiva Rajbhandari

Boise High School senior Shiva Rajbhandari was elected to serve on the Boise School Board of Trustees in the Sept. 6 election, making him the first student to ever serve on the board.

Rajbhandari, the first student to ever announce their candidacy for the Boise School Board of Trustees, won Race #4 against incumbent Steve Schmidt with 56.4% of the vote.

“It was a shot in the dark,” Rajbhandari told The Arbiter by phone. “From the beginning, this campaign, I saw it as a win-win. Because no matter what, we’re making history.”

On Sept. 12, Rajbhandari will be sworn into office as one of seven trustees on the Boise School District school board for a two-year term.

As a student himself, Rajbhandari has been vocal about the importance of student voices in politics and school districts. Much of his advocacy surrounds issues that are “important to today’s youth such as climate change and the student mental health crisis,” according to his website.

Rajbhandari received endorsements from past and present elected leaders in Idaho, including former Attorney General and Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones, Rep. John Gannon (District 17) and Boise City Council members Jimmy Hallyburton and Lisa Sánchez.

“I’m just humbled by the way my community has supported me,” Rajbhandari said. “I’m so grateful to all the staff, volunteers, my parents, my teachers, my friends, my coaches, everyone who made this possible, who made me who I am today.”

The high school senior was also endorsed by the Idaho Statesman in an opinion piece by the Statesman’s editorial board.

“Students don’t just deserve to be heard,” the Statesman wrote. “They deserve a say, a share of authority in the structure that governs much of their daily lives. The best way to accomplish that is to put Rajbhandari on the board. He has our endorsement.”

During his first full school year on the board, Rajbhandari plans to work with the district’s student advisory committee to select one student from each of the four Boise district high schools to shadow him until fall 2023. The board will then select one of the four students to finish serving the two-year term following Rajbhandari’s graduation from Boise High in May 2023.

“If the board chooses not to select one of those students and not to honor the will of the voters, then I will continue to serve the full length of that term,” Rajbhandari said. “I’m more than willing to [take a gap year], but this isn’t just about me. This is about getting a student position on the school board and bringing student representation and bringing students to the table.”

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