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CRLS Introduces Participatory Budgeting Program

Grace Austin, Contributing Writer

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Flowers aren’t the only thing that have blossomed in Cambridge this season. Over the course of the winter and spring, students’ creativity and innovation have been highlighted as they engineered a variety of ideas for improving the city and school.

This year, $5,000 of the school budget was set aside for student-submitted proposals for projects they wanted to see implemented at CRLS. The pilot year of participatory budgeting at CRLS was a major hit, with forty-five submissions entered.

In addition to all students being able to submit project ideas, several were also given the opportunity to review and select projects to be voted on. Delegates in this group included Maryam Dar ’20, Anthony Grassi ’19, Alia Farah ’19, Rory Millar ’19, Tenya Gardner ’19, Miriam Alvarez-Rosenbloom ’19, and Liz Roman ’20.

Gardner commented on the experience, saying, “This idea of letting students choose what to do with the money is very important, and every student definitely has an opinion about what to change at CRLS in order to make the school a better place.”

She continued, “This gives them the chance to have a voice and make a difference in CRLS that could last for years.”

Learning Community L Dean of Students Ms. VB and CRLS financial manager Julia Guida were the administrators involved in the review process.

Ms. VB described the process, saying, “If we knew the school [and] city would allow it, it was possible to complete with $5,000, and it wasn’t already being funded another way, all suggested projects were left on the list.”

The group of delegates and administrators met four times to determine the final proposals that were sent out to the student body for a schoolwide vote.

Seventeen ideas were proposed to the student body during the vote. There was a vast array of ideas in the final proposals, including a CRLS mural showcasing diversity, self-defense classes, college trips, and funding for various school groups and athletic programs. Students voted from April 30th to May 4th in the Main Cafeteria and online using Google Forms, and the voting was extended past May 4th to get more student input.

“Choosing between so many great ideas was difficult, and I definitely felt stuck between a few,” said sophomore Maya Counter. “Each idea would certainly contribute positively to the CRLS community. After careful consideration, I chose the self-defense classes, because, sadly, we live in a reality where assaults on … girls and women are all too common.” She added, “I find it especially important for us to learn self-defense strategies—not that that will solve the problem, but it could be life-saving to know how to fight back.”

The winning projects have yet to be announced at the time of writing. This year’s inclusion of student voices and delegates hosted a platform for inclusion and facilitated an enthusiastic energy towards CRLS’ future and the experience of students. Both staff and students are excited to see the submission and voting process continue next year and become a tradition at CRLS.

This piece also appears in our May print edition.

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The Student Newspaper of Cambridge Rindge and Latin
CRLS Introduces Participatory Budgeting Program