Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2007

School board approves planners, handbook changes

May 24, 2007

Next year's Baldwin High School students will have an additional $5.05 added to their enrollment bill.

BHS students will be receiving a planner next fall, complete with the school handbook, reference pages and district calendar, but it will cost them.

The Baldwin School Board approved the planner 6-0 at Monday's meeting. Board President Alison Bauer was not present at the meeting.

"The main reason we wanted to go with the planner is that organizational skills are lacking in many of our students," BHS Assistant Principal Bret Jones said.

BHS Principal Shaun Moseman and Jones first presented the idea of a planner to the school board at the May 14 meeting.

The planners will also include hall passes that students will be required to use during classes next year. BHS will be ordering 550 copies of the planner, in case a student misplaces his or hers.

The main item of discussion Monday was not the planners, but the changes to the BHS handbook. Those changes were also brought to the board May 14, but the board needed a week to review them. Highlighting the changes were the attendance policy and the honor's banquet requirements.

The board discussed the attendance and tardy policy for a while Monday. One area revolved around transportation problems being an excused or unexcused tardy.

"If the kid legitimately had a flat tire, most parents will call and tell us that," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "The problem is that some parents will call and use that excuse 60 times a year for their kid. That irritates staff and that's why it was put in there."

The board brought up the topic of using oversleeping as an excuse for being late. The board agreed that some parents may let their child sleep in if an emergency comes up, but others will use it too much.

Board Member Bill Busby wondered if there would be punishment for students who are tardy or absent too often.

"I've seen handbooks where the consequences for unexcused absences fall in line with the tardy policy, but it was a little more severe," Busby said.

Jones said Monday that the BHS administrators removed the addition to the handbook that said transportation problems will be unexcused tardies.

The school board wanted to include a sentence that gives the BHS administrators some leverage on making the decision about whether an absence or tardy is excused.

"We need to give the administrators a little bit of teeth in this," Board Member Lonnie Broers said. "If not, they have no recourse but to back off the issue."

Included at the bottom of the policy is a statement that reads the principal has the final decision on whether or not an absence or tardy is excused or unexcused.

The other change that was made Monday dealt with the honors' banquet requirements. BHS changed the grade-point average from 3.5 to 3.0 for next year, but if a student fails any course, they would never be eligible for the banquet in May.

That didn't sit well with Busby.

"I am willing to let the principals and the counselors work through this, but in my opinion it is wrong," Busby said.

The school board then asked Jones why these changes were made this year.

"I really don't have an answer for you, but a half dozen of us sat around and discussed the honors' banquet," Jones said. "We got a lot of flack about kids that dropped below a 3.5 so we lowered it to 3.0. We also thought that honor students don't fail core classes, but I guess it could happen."

The board changed the policy to say a student can't fail a course in the previous two semesters before the honors' banquet.

On Monday, the board also went into executive session for negotiations but took no action in regular session.

The next scheduled school board meeting is at 7 p.m. June 4 at the District Office.

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