Troy schools adopt new cell phone policy

Published 10:41 pm Monday, August 22, 2011

Troy City Schools students are now allowed to have cell phones on campus during school hours, thanks to a policy adopted Monday.

“The only difference between this policy and the one in place is that it’s not against the rules to have a cell phone on campus now,” said Lee Hicks, superintendent of Troy City Schools, adding that address the issue of cell phones was important “because of extracurricular activities and students who walk home.”

The new policy, adopted by the board of education, allows middle school and high school students to bring cell phones on campus during school hours. The cell phones and electronic devices (such as MP3 players and cameras) can be on campus but cannot be turned on or visible during school hours.

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Any students who violate the policy, either by having the phones or MP3 players in public view or having them turned on, will be subject to disciplinary action to be determined by the campus principal.

“The parents need to understand that the cell phone is still not allowed to be in the school and be visible,” said David Helms, assistant superintendent. “Basically, if we do a weapons search and find it in someone’s backpack, he won’t get in trouble. Before, he would have.”

Board members unanimously approved the policy, but only after several members raised questions about both the implementation of discipline and the method for amending the codes of discipline.

“I feel like we’re passing this policy at the request of parents, but I haven’t had a single teacher come to me and ask that we pass this,” said Roxie Kitchens, board president. “I want to make sure they know we realize this is going to make more work for them.”

Wanda Motes is one of those parents. “I think it’s wonderful because as a parent of a high school and a middle school student, whose schedules change sometimes on a daily basis, it makes me feel better that they have the ability to get in touch with me if something changes and they don’t have to rely on a school office phone,” she said.

“I’ve heard every aspect of it from both sides of the fence, and the comment I here most often from parents is that their child always carried a cell phone with them, they just never got caught,” Hicks said. “This doesn’t open the door to having a cell phone on your hip or an MP3 player in your ears … it simply allows them to be on campus if something were to happen.”

The board also adopted a dual enrollment/dual credit policy, which says that a student can participate in dual enrollment at post secondary institutions only in the 10-12 grades. The policy stipulates that the student must have a “B” average and have written approval from the principal and superintendent before enrollment in the classes.

Tammy Bouldin, mother of two students who have been dually enrolled in the Troy City Schools, questioned the board about the new policy. “What are you going to base the approval on?” she asked the board. “My child is willing to reach whatever bar the board sets so that he can be dual enrolled.”

In other business, the board:

• Considered a policy to set a minimum reserve fund for the district. The policy would require the district to maintain at least three months operating expenses, or approximately $3.9 million, in reserves at all times. The district currently has about six months in reserves. Board members will vote on the policy at their September meeting.

• Approved several personnel moves, including the transfer of Tara Davenport from third-grade teacher to special education teacher; the hire of Edwina Thomas (third grade), Tina Adler (kindergarten); Lynn Helms (part-time elementary reading coach); Amy Gaskin (part-time middle school reading coach); and the transfer of Patty Kreis from special education aide at Charles Henderson Middle School to Troy Elementary School. “Some of these hires were because of our growing enrollment and some were to address potential red cell issues in our AYP,” Hicks said.

• Heard a report from Hicks about the beginning of school, including news that enrollment is increasing. “So far we’re up about 30 students,” he said. “We are having students enroll on a daily basis.” And, he said, the first week of school was a positive one. “I want to thank the administration and teachers for a fantastic first week. Their morale has been outstanding.”

• Approved the contract of Steven Curtis as board attorney.

• Approved the paying of bills and approved the financial report. Sales tax revenues for July were $221,528, down 3.8 percent from last year, and utility expenses were $41,782, up 21 percent from last year.

• Heard a program from Gary Fox, board member with the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties. Fox explained the purpose and programs of the club.