Board discusses electronic devices
"We're adding during the classroom when it is part of the curriculum to give teachers flexibility. The teachers would set the tone," District Administrator Scott Bleck said during the school board's July 9 Committee of the Whole meeting.
His comment was during a discussion about the 2012-13 Student/Parent Handbook.
The handbook includes when students can use electronic devices as cellphones, and students and their parents must sign off annually on the handbook.
In the past, cellphones have been the major part of the discussion, but Bleck said this year, they want to change the word "cellphone" in that part of the handbook to the word "communication device" to better reflect the types of devices students bring to school.
Students bring not only cellphones to school but iPads and laptops.
"We look at it on an annual basis - what's working, what doesn't," Bleck said of the handbook.
He said it was about a year ago that they began the conversation about when it is appropriate to allow students to use their cellphones.
That is when the board voted to continue allowing students to use their cellphones before and after school and during lunch.
There was also a conversation about allowing students to use them between classes, which students were allowed to do.
Bleck said it worked well last year.
For the 2012-13 school year, it is being recommended that students be allowed to use electronic devices before school, between classes, during lunch, after school and in the classroom when it is part of that day's curriculum.
In the classroom, such use would be at the discretion of the teacher.
In addition, merit students would be allowed to use electronic devices during their study halls. Bleck said most merit students go to the cafeteria for their study halls.
One board member is not in favor of changing the policy.
"This is way too vague," Dan Kohl said. "I'd like to keep it how it was."
Board member Randy Yorkson suggested that the portion of the handbook about the expectations of communication device use be in bold print, and board member Sandy Smith agreed that is a good idea.
Board member Doug Ehrenberg said the board has to trust the administrative staff and teachers to determine when students should be able to use the devices and to discipline them accordingly.
The inappropriate use of devices can result in the devices being confiscated and for in-school or out-of-school suspensions in cases of multiple offenses.
The board will vote on the 2012-13 student/parent handbook when it holds its regular monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 23, in the middle school library.
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