Vote on Cell Phones Tabled

At Tuesday’s Richland 2 School Board Meeting, held at Bookman Road Elementary School, students presented to Board members how the programs at Bookman are ‘lighting the way’ for future success. Project Unify, an after-school club, pairs students for participation in Special Olympics. Each class has a chore or responsibility to contribute to the Bookman family. This in-school service might include composting, keeping the marque current or recycling. Service projects beyond the school walls are further encouraged.

The Board voted 6-1 (Chip Jackson, nay) to table the vote for the expansion of cell phones in the middle schools. Safety and appropriate use of cell phones for education value will be reviewed before the policy revision will be considered.

The Board voted 7-0 to revise three policies that would put the district in compliance with a state law that allows students currently attending the virtual school or home-schooled students to participate in after-school activities.

A District policy labeled ‘Self-Esteem Promotion/Suicide Prevention’ was also presented for vote. This policy had had considerable overhaul and was tabled for more time for discussion. Melinda Anderson was concerned that bullying and the role that it plays in teen suicide was not mentioned. Barbara Specter felt the policy as revised put the burden of prevention on the District without equal consideration of community accountability. Also of concern for Specter was the vague language on who was responsible for funding the programs outlined in the policy.

Jack Carter, Director of Operation, provided an update on the District’s security and crisis response, reporting that Richland 2 is currently adhering to the safety procedures recommended by the State Department of Education. “The strongest and best line of defense is a well-trained school staff,” Carter said, adding that this is what the district has. One improvement on the horizon is a Grab and Go Kit with rosters and other vital student information for each teacher. Currently this kit is held in the school main office and not the individual classrooms.

Wrapping up old business, the Board discussed the Human Resources section of the Effectiveness and Efficiency Study. The discussion focused on the District’s desire to have employee handbooks written specifically for each school as opposed to the single handbook available on the District Web site to serve all the schools. The Board approved 7-0 to have the HR department write employee handbooks specific for each school. Also approved unanimously was the refinement of performance evaluations for classified employees. The Effectiveness and Efficiency Study generated much discussion among Board members, which will be reported in detail next week.

The next Richland 2 School Board meeting will be held at Polo Road Elementary School on March 12 at 7 p.m.

Stevie Johnson can be reached at [email protected]